Glasgow’s Hug & Pint might be a cool, hipster like watering hole in the west end but its cramped cellar strained to contain the sold out crowd who had flocked to see this legendary coupling of two of THE bands of the Paisley Underground era, especially as this was the first time The Dream Syndicate had ventured north of Hadrian’s wall. To be precise, this was their second outing as tonight’s gig sold out so fast they had slotted in another the night before. Packed in like sardines, it was uncomfortable and for those not at the front of the room, all one got to see were the heads of the band members along with the occasional raised guitar neck. A pity really as a venue such as Glasgow’s Stereo could have accommodated both nights’ numbers and allowed the musicians a proper stage.
Steve Wynn and Vicki Peterson, depping on guitar for Jason Victor, seemed to take the venue in their stride however with both remarking that it reminded them of their early days playing in the worst L.A. dives and it certainly didn’t prevent them from delivering some incandescent music throughout the gig as did the opening act, The Rain Parade, touring as a duo of founding members Matt Piucci and Steven Roback. With Roback on acoustic and Piucci on electric guitar, the pair were quite superb. They have an album of new songs in the can but it was the chiming glories of vintage classics such as ‘I Look Around’, ‘What She’s Done To Your Mind’ and especially their final song, ‘No Easy Way Down’ where Roback played bass and the Syndicate’s Dennis Duck joined in on drums that sated the audience. Sure enough, it’s nostalgia but what a blessed moment to hear these songs live, their trippy blissed out psychedelic nirvana still alive and pulsing with energy. Roll on the forthcoming album.
It’s a four piece Dream Syndicate on this tour. With no Chris Cacavas and with Jason Victor replaced by Vicki Peterson (maintaining the Paisley Underground vibe as The Bangles were an integral part of it back in the days) there was Dennis Duck on drums and the dapper Mark Walton on bass, the engine room propelling the band. Steve Wynn, who surely has a Dorian Gray like portrait stashed somewhere in his attic, launched the band into ‘Where I’ll Stand’, the opening song from their latest album, a reminder that they are not a nostalgia act and also a signpost for the lengthy set of rock solid songs punctuated by squalls of guitar with both Peterson and Wynn whipping out solos galore. Third song in, ‘That’s What You Always Say’, was the first of the older numbers on show and the band just nailed the metallic clash and clang of the original and their later rendition of ‘The Medicine Show’ was quite majestic with Wynn on fire. New and old wrestled throughout the set with little to separate them, the turbo charged ‘Trying To Get Over’ followed by the glorious chimes of ‘Tell me When It’s Over‘.
The set ended with a celebration of sorts of that Paisley Underground. With a nod to the album ‘3X4′ (a 2018 studio collaboration) they played The Bangles’ ‘Hero Takes A Fall’ and The Rain Parade’s ‘You are My Friend’. Piucci and then Roback were on stage as they launched into their final number, a tribute to the late Tom Verlaine on a fine delivery of Television’s ‘Glory’. A perfect end to an almost perfect night.