The Old Fruitmarket became one of the first venues to host The Dandy Warhols since the recent release of their tenth studio album Why You So Crazy. Despite having no real connection to anything celtic, the gig was part of Celtic Connections, running through the end of January and early February.
The alternative rock band became indie royalty after ‘Bohemian Like You’ proved to be one of the biggest hits of the early 2000s thanks to a mobile phone advert.
Being one of the more unusual venues in the city, The Old Fruitmarket has the ability to add its own character to any gig, so long as the energy of the music and crowd combine to fill the pretty but peculiar space.
After the clunking, twanging, American Gothic ‘Forever’ opened the set, the much more mellifluous ‘STYGGO’ began a run of songs much more easily identifiable as having The Dandy Warhols’ sound.
Its ‘doo-doos’ and ‘ah-ahhs’ continued into one of the bands’ last big hits, ‘We Used to Be Friends’. When a band has a couple of songs that achieve a completely different level of success than the rest of their work, it can be a worry that, whether on an album or a setlist, the remainder can be filler. That wasn’t the case on the night. ‘You Were the Last High’ offered something soft, sincere and nostalgic, while ‘I Love You’ trudged along with confidence at the pace of a grungey, lackadaisical 90s teenager.
As ‘Bohemian Like You’ began, it of course got the biggest reaction of the night, the crowd being as mobile as their coolness would allow. The band would be forgiven for ending every set with it, but instead, the equally impressive ‘Everyday Should be a Holiday’ followed, and gained just as good a reaction.
The Dandy Warhols always had a cool image, sound and attitude to them that paid heed to old school rock bands and their lifestyle; some of it contrived, some of it not. They balanced on the Americana chine of glamour and grit. The ups and downs of a psychedelic condition given a socially acceptable, coffeeshop soundtrack.
This is perfect when sitting, relaxed, melting into a couch at home, but when the crowd at a gig are determined to be effortless, atmosphere can be hard to come by. The set was perfect for nonchalant head nodding, and despite there being a willingness from the crowd to enter into the cool, Portland haze, there was the unmistakeable sound of chatter throughout.
But what The Dandy Warhols have perfected, is the crafting of a setlist for a band now in their 25th year. They introduce new material, link it with the old, and punctuate the night with crowd-pleasers.
review by Luke Hawkins