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Razorlight - Old Fruitmarket - 04/12/18

"The return of indie heroes Razorlight sparks a frenzied response on a cold Glasgow evening."


Review by Graham McCusker
Posted on 2018-12-05 22:10:56
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2018 has been a year of revitalisation for Johnny Borrell. After the initial disbandment of Razorlight following their much-maligned third record ‘Slipway Fires’, the frontman went through numerous solo projects, all of which faded with little more than a whimper. When Razorlight eventually properly reformed last year, with the frontman being the only original member, it stank of another faded indie artist trying to cash in on former glories.

The initial release of new material was met with scepticism and snobbery, before later turning out that it was (whisper it) actually quite good. Borrell seemed to have ditched the messiah complex which had hindered his public persona, and got back to basics. The record which followed, ‘Olympus Sleeping’, was a return to the classic indie rock of their debut and met with critical acclaim. This evening’s show in Glasgow is the first date of a long-since sold-out UK tour, continuing the gradual unexpected rebirth of an indie legend.

Coming onstage bang on 9.30pm on an icy-cold Glaswegian evening, the band waste little time in getting the packed out crowd warmed-up with a frenetic double whammy of ‘Rip It Up’ and ‘In The Morning’, which provoke the first singalong of the evening. After having the audacity to air early b-side ‘Keep The Right Profile’ (and drag it out for as long as humanly possible), Borrell and co unleash ‘Golden Touch’, which invokes mass hysteria. As the band halt to let their Glaswegian faithful sing the chorus acapella, the noise is deafening as they roar back every word.

Razorlight do take the opportunity to air a number of songs from new record ‘Olympus Sleeping’, and unsurprisingly, the most well-received is the frenetic ‘Japanrock’. A burst of short, sharp indie rock, it could easily have slotted onto their debut, and the crowd lap up Borrell’s lightning-quick lyrical spits.

The frontman says very little this evening, but does take time to acknowledge their early shows at the legendary King Tuts, as he recounts playing the venue three times in three weeks on various support slots. The band then launch into ‘Stumble & Fall’ and ‘Vice’, the former still retaining the frantic energy of when it was initially released in 2004, and the latter’s melodic chorus still remaining wonderfully catchy. Razorlight briefly misfire with a boring ‘Los Angeles Waltz’, before ending the main set with an intense ‘Wire To Wire’.

Borrell may have ditched the god complex, but he still partakes in good old-fashioned self-indulgence as he treats the crowd to two encores. The first comprises of a joyous one-two of new record highlights ‘Got To Let The Good Times Back Into Your Life’ and ‘Carry Yourself’, before crowd-favourite ‘Somewhere Else’ incites flying pint tumblers and more mass chant-a-longs.

After a minor panic amongst the crowd of a will-they-won’t-they, Razorlight end the evening with their biggest hit ‘America’, with Borrell pointedly telling the crowd “fuck Fox News, and fuck Donald Trump”. The phones come straight out as soon as the song begins, and the Old Fruitmarket goes absolutely berserk one final time before being sent home happy.

This latest incarnation of Razorlight seem to have recaptured the essence of what made them a big deal in the first place. Johnny Borrell is in great form all evening, with his vocal in fine fettle, and has lost none of the engaging persona which made him such an interesting frontman in the first place. On the basis of the excellent show on the opening night of their first UK tour in several years, along with a fine new record behind them, it wouldn’t be beyond Razorlight to spearhead an indie explosion once again.

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