No strangers to previous C2C fringe events, Johnny Smillie and Monica Queen appear tonight under their old moniker Thrum as opposed to their most recent incarnation, the duo Tenement and Temple, the difference perhaps best explained as the latter having the volume set around five, the former way up to the fabled eleven. Their late-night set does start with a haunting acoustic version of John Denver’s ‘Fly Away’. Then, instead of sticking to the safe option of an acoustic country tinged showcase, Queen straps on the Telecaster that was slung behind her back and they upshift into an electric set of indie-inspired Americana. It’s a policy that pays off in the brutalist concrete surroundings of the SWG3 venue.
A large proportion of the crowd have attended the all-day C2C event along the road at the SECC Hydro, headlined by Chris Stapleton and with Lyle Lovett on the bill. Perhaps testament to a crossover friendly Glasgow audience, Smillie’s resonant Neil Young influenced vintage guitar licks and solos and the intensity of Monica Queen’s vocals are clearly appreciated by this crowd. Many of the after-show revellers are here for the next-generation mainstream country headliner Michael Ray. Whilst a little bit too Nashville for this website it’s worth mentioning the ‘Kiss You in the Morning’ singer for further exploration for those who like modern country -pop, Ray’s brand of which includes an almost R&B delivery and a cover of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’.
Covers are much in evidence tonight. The Thrum short set is bookended by two of them but the main body of the piece is a triptych of expansive new material due for impending release. The melodic ‘Breathe’ is driven by the interplay of Rory McGregor’s bass, Gary Johnston’s drums and the guitars. On ‘Berlin’, Queen’s country-soaked voice morphs into a more, commanding and snarling Patti Smith like vocal while ‘Dawkin Days’ is a compelling combination of Queen and Smillie’s impeccable pop sensibilities and harmonising. Their closing cover of ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ was wonderfully stretched out from the original two minute thrash, lasting almost seven minutes by the addition of all things rejected by the Ramones – long intros, melodic solos and effortlessly drawn-out phrasing and harmonies.
As they once said ‘Gabba Gabba Heyyyyyyyyyyy!’