Standing outside Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry one feels as if you might have stepped back in time, it has all the fittings of an old seaside resort venue but on a main road in Glasgow. And once you get inside, you’re treated to a good dose of Americana and some nice cheap drinks. It is, without doubt, the right choice to set the launch of Woodenbox’s sophmore album.
As a crowd begins to gather we begin to note the drum set being constructed in the middle of the floor and this proves to only be the beginning of a wonderfully strong opening set by Edinburgh’s The Horndog Brass Band. They manage to make quite an entrance and the performance right in the thick of it with the crowd is an absolute treat, they put on more of a show than a set as they ably move around the floor and, near the end, even into the crowd itself. Despite being based in Edinburgh and performing in Glasgow, Horndog bring a bit of New Orleans flavour to Scotland and this pleases me greatly and I’m not the only one. The crowd is on side and warmed up early, with a short set that fills the room with happiness.
It is the job of Sheffield’s Neil McSweeney and his band to keep the energy in the crowd up and build on Horndog’s brilliant opening. Masterfully layering a lot of elements into their set, they move between poppier tunes and those that are more earnest. The Americana infused music is smooth with heartfelt lyrics and makes a connection with the crowd throughout. Bringing some humour into the night, they tease the crowd by asking if we’re scared of the wood (that makes up the dancefloor in the centre of the room) and that’s why we’re not all closer to the stage. The banter does the trick and soon there’s a healthy crowd on the dancefloor, where the Horndogs had only earlier been playing themselves.
With the crowd amply warmed up and ready to get down, our headliners Woodenbox are warmly welcomed onto the stage after half past nine and they open big with new track ‘Roll For Me’. It is a strong start, their set is off to a winner and everyone in the room knows it. Formed in 2008 and with many shows behind them Woodenbox are now an incredibly accomplished live band that can deftly move between their old school hit tunes and the newer album material without missing a beat. Welcoming the full Horndog Brass Band onstage in the middle of the set for Life From Above, we are treated to a bigger and better show as the night winds down to its close but not without the big hit Twisted Mile getting the entire crowd jigging and singing along. Unsurprisingly the band are brought back on stage for a well deserved encore, noting that was it was unplanned and they’d already played their encore track. Regardless they pull something out that goes down just as well as the set before and leave the crowd suitably satisfied and impressed.
This Thursday night in Glasgow had all the right elements for a grand old time in the Grand Ole Opry. Woodenbox launched their second album in style and we all hope they’re here to stay and continue to treat us with such brilliant live stylings.
Also to published on Glasgow Podcart