St Luke’s – The Vegan Leather/ Acrylic/ Aaron Smith/ NIKO
We had no issues braving the freezing weather to see a stunning line up in a stunning venue.
First up was NIKO, a West Lothian based rapper, which made for an exciting alternate flavour to the usual acoustic warm up act. Possessing a warm American accent with a soft gravelly voice, NIKO ploughed ferociously into his first track with relative ease; his impressive vocal chops on display for all to see. A young and developing artist he might be, but NIKO calmly charmed the audience with his natural rapport, asking what kind of beat he should freestyle over. After a brief exchange with the sound engineer, and no bones made about the fact he was looking for royalty free YouTube backtracks, we were treated to bars over jazz and funk beats about anything the crowd would shout up to the young rapper, notably Donald Trump, surprise surprise. This was a fun set that deserved more time allocated to explore off the cuff themes to properly enjoy this entertaining raw talent on show.
Secondly, Aaron Smith brought his self-proclaimed mixture of John Mayer/Bon Iver tones to the stage and treated the room to a well curated, original set. Originality is hard to come by with acoustic solo acts but Aaron had a clear vision of his own sound which went down well amongst an eclectic line up. He told Keep the Heid himself that he has plans to do more writing down in Newcastle with other songwriter pals and is looking forward to get some new material recorded and released in the near future. Notable songs in his set to look out for are “Demons” and “Doubts.”
The first band of the night were atmospheric pop/rock five-piece, Acrylic. They brought the mood up a few notches with their sweeping guitars and cultivated feel. The drummer made his way around the kit tastefully, very tight, leading the band and bringing melody to his playing. The singing was low in register but slotted well into the overall sound where every band member fulfilled their role to weave the full tapestry of sound I know they were aiming for. This style of music has many contemporary influences, and fits well into the category of pleasant easy listening, whilst still having a live edge that makes the band worth seeing. New release “In Here/ Tonight” is a good place to begin listening.
Headliners The Vegan Leather are always the highlight of any night, and St Luke’s was no exception. Showcasing new release “I Take American,” the band again raised their performance to new highs. Singer Gianluca brought wonderful energy to the stage, Marie was the perfect co-front-woman, weaving in and out of the songs at will, Matt and Duncan found the magical balance between tightness and groove, which serves the style of music on offer excellently, especially in the live setting. The music itself is reminiscent of mid-noughties Daft Punk and Soulwax, combined with a refreshingly chirpy vibe. As we were catching up with the guys ahead of their set, they intimated that they are mainly focussed on writing great tunes, which they have managed quite convincingly to date; this was coupled with an audio-visual experience that excels in a highly saturated and competitive live scene in Glasgow. As far as the gig went, final song “This House” encapsulates what The Vegan Leather are all about, the special relationship between crowd and performers is best understood in person, so follow them on your preferred social media to catch them at the earliest convenience, you won’t regret it.
Photos by Megan McMahon