After an intriguing interview with Augustines’ drummer Rob Allen – talking about everything from Hitler to crowd surfing – Hannah and I made our way to the performance area. With a good twenty-minutes before the supporting act - Sivu - hit the stage, there was an almost tangible anticipation encircling the crowds that were dotted around the room. Grabbing some fresh air and returning only fifteen minutes later, the atmosphere and attendees had thickened substantially.
Bustling our way through the crowd to attain a good spot, a dimly lit stage sporting a bold ‘AUGUSTINES’ banner and a plethora of instruments lingered, waiting to have their potential unleashed. Clearly enthused by Sivu’s performance, there is a heavy buzz that fills the room.
Suddenly, the lights fade completely. After an apprehensive silence, Augustines, fronted by Rob Allen, are met with a bursting applause and emerge on to the stage! Following a brief introduction and declaring that he has “taken a lot of Indiana Jones shit" for his trademark Fedora Sable hat, Billy McCarthy and the gang get the show off to an energetic start! Maybe even too energetic as McCarthy yanks the XLR cord out of his microphone!
Before the first half an hour is up, Augustines have the crowd in their hands, chanting during songs and laughing in-between. McCarthy and Sanderson fill up on Jameson’s Whiskey, before discarding their coats and really start to come into their own. With ‘Cruel City’ and ‘Nothing To Lose But Your Head’ getting the crowd participating at full volume, McCarthy’s energy appears in sweat form, spraying and swishing wildly to the passionate thrashing of Allen’s drum-kit.
In a blur of bright flashes and coloured spotlights, Augustines performance makes an hour and half of entertainment seem like thirty minutes of pure ecstasy. During ‘Now You Are Free’, uniting the crowd with chants of “What am I running from?”, Augustines and the audience connect like two magnets, unwilling to part ways and let the show conclude. Even the security guard has the crowd in stitches of laughter, interrupting Augustines dramatic musical pause with a radio command. Still, despite the slight embarrassment, like everyone else, he too sports a jovial smile in acknowledgement of the night’s magic.
On top of a excitement-filled night of belting power chords and strained vocals, an intimate encore takes over in the form of Eric Sanderson’s resonator guitar, Rob Allen’s red Cajon Drum Box and McCarthy’s voice – husky and emotional from a powerful and electric performance.
“This would be illegal in the States” McCarthy confesses as, much to the disbelief of the audience, Augustines drop down to be one with their fans. Making their way to the middle of the room, the band have their acoustic equipment crowd-surfed to their position – along with the remains of a well-polished bottle of whiskey - and begin enthusing the crowd with ‘Weary Eyes’ and a beautifully delivered cover of The Clash’s ‘Guns of Brixton’. Everybody, from Alex the Sound Engineer to Sam Whatsize, the tour manager, are fulfilled and in awe of Augustines performance. Finally, concluding what can only be described as a two-and-a-half hour sensation, Augustines thank the crowd and promise they will return to relive this emphatic event all over again.
For many, this will be the highlight of the weeks and months to come; it was truly an unforgettable night and Glasgow is in for a treat tonight. With 22 gigs left in the European Walkabout Tour before concluding in Birmingham on the 16th of May, this performance will be a tough gig for the Augustines to top. After all, as I’m sure McCarthy will admit, it’s not every night you kiss another man’s wife in front of a few hundred people!