RANGING from the archetypal ‘cool kids’ to older music aficionados and even a succession of men in full highland regalia, there’s one show that has firmly captured the imagination of the city’s clued-up like no other. Proponents of anthemic, head-turning rock ‘n’ roll that is filled with a thrilling energy that can’t be suppressed or overlooked, Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag are spearheading something new and vital in amidst troubling times.
Currently on a rare jaunt to the UK in order to celebrate the release of their fantastic debut album Need To Feel Your Love, this packed show in Glasgow’s Mono Cafe got underway with authority as the strident call-to-arms that is ‘Meet Me In The Streets’ came racing from the speakers. Thoroughly setting the tone for what would transpire before the attentive capacity crowd’s eyes, its decadent yet in no way contrived classic rock licks and the seering vocals of frontwoman Tina Halliday almost feel like a declaration of how special what we’re witnessing before us truly is.
A concern that had lingered upon this maiden voyage to see the band was whether or not the band’s serrated, lo-fi style would comfortably translate to the stage but any fears were quickly abolished as the haywire ‘Hard Lovin’ was delivered as the first foray back into their formative stages.
Complete with hooks and emphatic, bewildering moments of ecstasy that mirror the dizzying feelings of infatuation that informed its creation, the title track from their debut was swiftly delivered and it quickly sparked something inside the crowd that you rarely stumble upon these days. When it comes to seeing more intimate shows, there is often a reluctance to allow yourself to let go and immersive yourself in the band’s performance in favour of reserved spectating and customary pint-sipping. In the case of Sheer Mag’s long-awaited descent upon one of Glasgow’s most beloved venues, this withdrawn posturing is completely and encouragingly stripped away in favour of outpourings of adoration and spells of spontaneous dancing that signify why they’re so important in today’s culture.
A release from everyday for both band and audience alike, the group’s confrontationally liberated and pretension-free sound proves to be the perfect accompaniment to a Saturday night as the band’s musical mastermind Kyle Seely and co deliver song after song of high-octane rock such as the Doobie Brothers-inspired ‘Suffer Me’ and the hard-edged proto-punk of breakout single ‘Nobody’s Baby.’
Never once slowing down the tempo or steering away from an atmosphere of joy-filled gratification, their rapid ascent is attested to by the volume of distinctive and instantly recognisable tracks are at their immediate disposal. As things begin to approach their hedonistic conclusion, the group unleash the likes of their modern-day ode to the whirlwind of young love ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ and ‘What You Want’ with a playful offhandedness that suggests that they don’t even realise how much impact these have upon those in attendance. Bands can dutifully carry on for years and never write compositions that are as effective as that and yet they are merely a swift combination of tracks that sit neatly amid an endless procession of highlights.
Exploding into the disco-tinged dancefloor filler that is ‘Fan The Flames’, even the staunchest of cynics or staid observer in attendance had no choice but to concede to its power and gyrate along accordingly. As if that wouldn’t have already served as a fitting end to one of the performances of the year, the band left a rapturous audience pining for more as the darkened iffs of ‘Point Breeze’ bring things to a thrilling conclusion.
Simply put, if Sheer Mag are still playing venues of this size upon their next visit to the UK then there’s something amiss as this is a band that deserves to be headlining festivals and arenas that befit the daunting stature of their collective talent. While it’s clear that fame and fortune aren’t perhaps the band’s utmost concern, it would certainly reinforce the belief that there is any justice in the tempestuous world of the music industry after all. If you’ve yet to experience Need Your Feel To Love in all its ruggedly brilliant glory then you’re doing yourself a disservice and we can only hope that their absence from these shores is relatively short-lived.