During a short break in tonight’s show, The Xcerts frontman Murray McLeod remarks how surprised the band were that anyone had bought tickets to see them perform their debut album in full. He is obviously just being humble as every one of those songs is greeted like an old friend tonight by the near sold-out crowd at The Flapper. As we all await the band’s fifth album, hopefully the one that will finally get them the credit they deserve, this evening is a celebration of the album which introduced them to the world ten years ago.
Fellow Scots Swim School open up the show with their dreamy indie-pop bops, blending the hazy tones of The Cure with the laid-back approach of Soccer Mommy. Although the band are still definitely a little raw, the strength of vocalist Alica Johnson and buzzing bass tone of Matt Mitchell marks them out as a band to keep an eye on going into 2020.
When tonight’s headliners arrive on-stage they come with a surprise fourth member; it’s a rather strange sight after seeing them as a three piece for all these years, but it soon becomes clear how much this aids their sound and allows the band to do justice to every song from In The Cold Wind We Smile. Tonight’s show not only gives long-time fans the chance to witness some of these songs being played live again, but also demonstrates just how far The Xcerts have come in the last ten years. Once upon a time it seemed like McLeod would be trying to hide behind his long hair on-stage, but now over the past few years especially we have seen how he has come into his own as a live performer. Now he is more active than ever, with shaking hips and swinging microphone as he gives us his best Adam Lazzara impression.
The primary focus this evening however is on those songs; some of which haven’t been played live for nearly a decade. Although ‘Crisis In the Slow Lane’ and ‘Do You Feel Safe’ get regular outings, rarities such as ‘Nightschool’, ‘Just Go Home’, and ‘Home Versus Home’ are a treat to hear, their emotional impact hitting just as hard as they did in 2009. Of course the highpoint of the evening comes with ‘Aberdeen 1987’, a song which will probably remain in setlists for as long as The Xcerts are playing shows.
After finishing their run through of the album the band return to stage for some more fun with a few of their more recent hits, blasting out ‘Live Like This’, ‘Shaking In the Water’, ‘Crazy’ and ‘Feels Like Falling in Love’. It is these songs which really deserve to be heard in bigger venues than they grace tonight as they are simply massive and the contrast with the emo tunes from earlier in the night showcase the growth of The Xcerts. As a minor complaint the few songs from Hold On To Your Heart make slightly too much use of backing tracks for the synths and keys sections. In all likelihood this is just down to the scale of the tour they are on but it would be nice to see these songs performed fully-live, and hopefully when the next shows roll around they will be in a position to do so.
Tonight is a rare opportunity to see where it all started for The Xcerts. Their impassioned fanbase seem to know every syllable, and the show is another reminder that the band have always possessed the talent and quality to make real waves within the UK. Now we just have to hope that soon those waves start to get noticed.