Live Review

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, King Tut’s, Glasgow

A mini masterclass in psych pop of the highest order.

It’s a special moment during any gig when band and audience align in perfect symmetry. It’s a moment that comes with the very first song of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s first ever Scottish set at Glasgow’s King Tut’s and continues as the trio, led by front man Ruben Nielson take the crowd on a dizzying psych rock journey.

The UMO live experience is more visceral and raw than on record; there’s less of the hazy and primitive swirl in favour of a heightened intensity that keeps these elastic grooves together. The three-piece are outstanding - as well as the magnetic presence of front man Nielson, bassist Jake Portrait and drummer Riley Geare provide the perfect accompaniment as they twist and elongate these psychedelic jams into something quite special.

Each song seems to spark off another, many songs merge into one long and drawn out whole. It’s such a joy to witness a band who are so enraptured while playing. A joyous romp through the soul pop rush of ‘How Can You Luv Me’ is particularly well received.

There’s a charming quality to UMO’s disregard for convention and song structure. Highlights from their two self-titled albums are casually drawn out with guitar solos, drum solos and numerous builds and drops. Sometimes it completely crashes in on itself but mostly the air of expression is thrilling. Make no mistake though, despite the casual veneer these are three highly skilled musicians.

Nielson is on engagingly chatty form; in fact, he seems slightly taken by at the reception by the Glasgow audience. Playing far beyond the curfew time of 11pm, the band indulge in two differing covers. The first is a bludgeoning punk rock run though of Jay Reatard’s ‘My Shadow’ while the second is a mesmerising 10 minute version of Can’s ‘Vitamin C.’ Nielson finally sends the repeated heckler calling for old hit ’Ffunny Ffrends’ home happy by closing with that song’s lovely languid lilt.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra are one of those rare bands who could play continuously for hours at a time and few would lose interest. Over the course of 90 minutes in Glasgow tonight they have delivered a mini masterclass in psych pop of the highest order.

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