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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Variety Suite

Unfortunately I’ve just found out that a local band have decided to call it a day.
It’s unfortunate as I truly believe that they had the makings of something a bit special. They were labeled as indie pop, but to my ears there was a lot more going on. I would have personally described them as a power pop combo with the vestige of the garage hanging around their west coast jangly guitar driven tunes. They seemed to have it all, well crafted songs with four part harmonies being used to the best possible effect, the musical chops and a greater degree of stage presence than many of their young peers possess.
The reason for their demise is that the drummer has been offered the drum stool for a signed band and while some might boo and hiss his decision it’s a hard fact of life that sometimes you have to look after number one.
At the moment it would appear that they are now all going their different ways, but it would be nice to think that they will all look back on their time as Variety Suite with fondness.
Here’s their demos. I hope that you enjoy them, but please keep in mind that they only tell a small part of the story as it was live where these young guys really came into their own. I guess it’s true that sometimes you do actually have to be there.
Good luck to the guys in all their future endeavours.
PS. Please feel free to repost the link as the guys have always upped their demos for anyone to grab. It would be cool to see some interest, even if it’s posthumous."

While I'm here I may as well post the review from the last gig I seen them perform. I'll keep The Tragic City Thieves part in as they are going to featured here in the forthcoming weeks and Har Mar can hang around to, as let's be honest, Har Mar is always welcome to hang around.

Har Mar Superstar / Tragic City Thieves / Variety Suite - King Tuts - Glasgow (6/12/09)
It’s par for the course that support bands will compliment the headliner. They’re the starter before the main course and a promoter is treading in dangerous waters if they want to mix things up and experiment a bit.
It’s normally best to just stick to giving the punters what they know. This is why it would have been unlikely to have seen Motorhead opening for Pavarotti.
It’s one of those unwritten rules that ensures narrow minded punters aren’t too offended by having their musical palates stretched beyond what they can handle.
Yet every once in a while caution is cast to the wind and the support slots are filled by bands who are judged on merit rather than any ability to fit into a confining niche.
When this happens then at the very least you know you are going to be in for a different evening and at the most a special one.
This was one of the special ones.

Opening act Variety Suite are without a shadow of a doubt the very best unsigned indie pop band that Scotland currently has to offer, and the only people who will doubt that statement are the unfortunates who so far haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced to them.
Within the next year I seriously think that it is entirely possible that they will crash into the wider consciousness of the music loving public. They simply have mass appeal stamped all they way through them.
In all my years of watching bands I’m finding it hard to remember ever seeing one with so much precocious talent on display.
In an era where pop music has become synonymous with disposability Variety Suite are the band who are stepping up and showing us how it used to be done by writing classic pop songs and delivering them with a confidence and passion that others strive for but never quite manage.
If you go and see one unsigned band in 2010 then do yourself a favour and make it Variety Suite.

It could be argued that glam rock was sullied in the eighties by bands like Poison, Motley Crue and their ilk. They may well have started off in the gutter with a punk attitude, but the majority soon succumbed to the lure of MTV and the dollar. The fire that initially drew certain people to them was certainly lost in the rush to grab a slice of the pie from the man. By diluting the sound and the attitude for the masses they morphed into a different beast and dragged the glam moniker along with them.
It was a short step from dealing in the unexpected to dealing in slick choreographed moves that hinted of debauchery but never delivered. The real element of danger was replaced by the illusion of danger and it sucked.
Thankfully there are still some bands who peddle in gutter rock and roll with style and panache and Glasgow has one of the best in the Tragic City Thieves. There is a huge fuck you attitude that exudes from them. They walk it like they talk it and if they told you they were the best band in the whole motherfuckin’ world then even if you disagreed you would see in their eyes that they believed their own hype.
The thing is that although they obviously aren’t the best band in the whole wide world they might be one of the best in what they do.
As a unit they are tight. Like the Clash they could be the last gang in town. It’s them against the world and they’re taking no prisoners. It’s that do or die attitude that I love about them.
When they step onto a stage you can see people looking and ‘what the fuck’ is lit like neon on their faces.
The guitarist, Stuart Firefly, is a man mountain with a beard and eyeliner and we all know that you don’t mess with big men with facial hair and make up on. It’s a rule that some people forget, but big men in beards and make up are usually willing to set people straight on the matter if you have an issue.
Once he starts playing you forget all that though as the man is a guitar god. Nimble fingers dance over the frets and wring out solos effortlessly. He sounds immense.
Meanwhile on the opposite side of the stage Jim Rider struts his stuff. Outwardly he’s all sartorially elegance with a coiffure teased to perfection, but start the music and he’s Lord Byron on the bass. Mad, bad and dangerous to know.
In the background Div thrashes away bare-chested wearing of all things a black sequined cape. He’s like a demented Duracell monkey on amphetamines.
Fronting this mad circus is CJ. He’s sporting crack whore make up and channelling Iggy Pop into his performance. I’m sure in his head when he is in the audience during ‘Lady Machine’ he’s serenading men and women alike. The reality is that a six footer is nose to nose with punters growling couplets of darkness into their face.
This is tightly controlled madness, but it’s hard to tell if the band know this themselves.
Collectively they are a potent mix. There is no middle ground with them. You either love or hate them. No matter what one of the two it is you will certainly remember them.
What Tragic City Thieves deal in is unadulterated rock and roll that’s not for the faint of heart.

Har Mar Superstar is everything people say about him. A diminutive pervert going to seed who parades around in his underwear for the entertainment of a disparate group of weirdos. He’s also a funky genius with more talent in his little finger than most would care to admit, but why let that get in the way of a good character assassination.
In Glasgow he has nothing to prove though. He’s playing in front of his people. We love him, he loves us and it’s just a big love in. Fantastique.
Mainly drawing from his latest album ‘Dark Touches’ he breakdances, struts and strips across the stage backed by one of the funkiest bands that I’ve seen.
Highlights were the latest single ‘Tall Boy’ and a cover of the Libertines ‘Don’t look back into the sun’, but to pick them out as such doesn’t mean that the rest of the set paled into insignificance next to them. They were just the jewels in a glittering crown.
From start to finish the entertainment just got better and better and I am left wondering why all gigs couldn’t be like this. I’m still on a high from it.


  1. hey bro, by any chance do you have gunfire dance? I have a 3-track demo i can up for you but i would love more.

  2. I don't but I'll have a wee look about for you.
    I'll be working for the next few days though.