Great Western Festival 2021

18 Nov 2021

Great Western Festival 2021

The Great Western is multi venue festival I can certainly see becoming a yearly event in my own calendar.

My long overdue return to original live music comes in the form of the Great Western Festival. A well curated event with indie cult heroes and a journey of discovery of local up and coming bands.

It was a welcome start as I noticed on the lineup, previous favourites of mine (We are the Physics) in their new guise! Slime City absolutely rocked the Great Western Festival on Saturday at The Glue Factory, or should it be renamed The Shoe Factory? After witnessing the band make noise from a shoe.

This really happened.

One shoe delivered from wish dot com playing music to a warehouse in Glasgow. This probably wasn’t event the weirdest part of the set either, an incredible set pulling together punk rock, hilarious lyrics, new wave madness and shoes!

This band have every detail mapped out throughout the set, the hold music whilst Michael returned his guitar a particular highlight. Songs about Dial Up internet and Jools Holland vs Top of the Pops, has the crowd singing modern day anthems for the over 30s! If you are going to start a festival right, you need Slime City getting that slightly weird, and always wonderful party started!

The return to live events across the world has been a long time coming, and with this has brought teething problems. Unfortunately, the festival was not exempt at was what happened at Maryhill Community Halls. We turned up for Nuha Ruby Ra who was well recommend to us.

As we walked into the room she was moved to, with a whole host of eager soon to be new fans, she was still soundchecking with no sign of being anywhere ready. We went to the main hall and encountered the same issue.

Sadly one venue had cancelled the day before, which led to the schedule being moved around a bit. However with the brilliant live timing app in place, communication on there could really have helped the audience who were walking between the venues.

Ruby came out and thanked us for turning up, though as we waited for over an hour, we realised it was likely time to move to the next venue.
We managed to catch a bit of the band Cloth who were playing shoegaze music in the main room, we were still struggling to hear though after the noisy onslaught in the Glue Factory
With two bands scheduled to play at same time in both rooms in the venue, with neither taking to stage anywhere close to it, it was disappointing.

Onwards to Webster’s to catch Awkward Family Portrait, a quaint country style band straight out of the Wild West or a Clint Eastwood film. This band mix great musicianship, lovely lyrics, sadness and humour in equal measures. They grip you from the first moment until the last. They had the audience in fits of laughter during a song about their friend who never answers the phone “Ring Ring Angus - pick up!!!!”

This is an act I’ve caught a few times playing small open mics at Dukes and always really impress me with their style. It was a greet crowd reaction to a fantastic performance. An absolutely perfect spot on the lineup for them, a nice reset to the evening and set up the rest of the night perfectly.

Great Western Road over the last few years has really become a great destination to head for a night out. The West Enders know this of course, though the call of the ever popular Finnieston and Byres Road always a good appeal for people heading into the west of the city. Multi venue Festivals and Events like the Great Western and the Chilli Cook Off really bring attention to this part of the West End. There are so many amazing food places in the area from the Vegan Hug & Pint, to Glasgow pizza giants Paesano! There are not a lot of styles of food you cannot get here.

The festival really draws attention to the varied event spaces and compliments them with a programmed lineup suited to the clientele. Inn Deep has gathered an amazing reputation over the years for great craft beers and excellent food, it was the unofficial venue for us for a bite to eat to plan the rest of the night ahead.

An example of how festivals like this really bring people to the area and showcase the other spaces around. With this, we are transported back to simpler times, circa 2007 as the indie music scene was thriving... Willy mason was playing this time, a lot older than when he made his debut in Glasgow at 18.

Blues music in a church usually an Oxymoron, as once Robert Johnson famously sold his soul to the devil, the venue is the Mackintosh Church, another of Maryhills stunning spaces to host concerts.
Like a train coming slowly along the tracks, the pounding drums of the set made for a lot of head banging and toe tapping, the only downside in this church tonight was we were all sitting and not up dancing. Willy tells us a story of a fight he nearly got into in Glasgow before, it is Maryhill after all…

As the band hit into “I am alone”- I can’t help but notice that he certainly is not alone in Glasgow. Crowd favourite “Oxygen” creates the biggest singalong of the day so far! An anthem from the NME days of indie guitar music.

It’s time to head back to the Maryhill Community Hall and check out Scottish Legends Arab Strap, doing a stripped back set. As the venue is running behind, we can catch a bit of The Yummy Fur before watching Aidan Moffat and go set up.

“Did you enjoy our soundcheck?!” Is how he introduces us to the evening. The venue is rammed. Quite right too, this bands new album is a thing of beauty and possibly my favourite of 2021. Moffat introduces the first few songs as “love songs,” showing the dark humour which run through their lyrics. We are treated to special love ditties about aids, and having a wank. Remember, Valentine’s Day isn’t that far away kids…

“Fuck it, this isn’t a love song!” Changes the set from dark to darker, though still with the whole audience gripped at this Scottish folk music. It’s time to dance - we are told if we want to, the next three songs will be that time of the set. Folk style Ceilidh does not break out! The soon to be inner city anthem of “Fable of the Urban Fox,” tells us the story of the hungry fox who comes to the city, and the fate that happens to it. We listen intently and nervously shuffle our feet as we hear how not to approach chickens. “Then on Friday night we went Maryhill” an ode to the area and not the Arches, however it’s time for the “First Big Weekend” of the summer. It’s great to hear this story about a four day bender and absolute cult indie anthem being belted out by Moffat and his adopted west end choir of all of us.

Someone text me this week telling me they had never listened to Arab Strap before, I’ve a feeling this was the part of the set when becoming a lifetime fan was cemented. (We have both been to a lot of parties together!)

A song that speaks to all of us who’ve had the lost weekends in the past, at a time when the world is opening back up, memories like this are always good to smile back on, this song encapsulates that!
The Ninth Wave are the last on our list for the evening, playing great Depeche Mode style electronic music in a warehouse setting many up for a night in Glasgow’s clubs, an exciting set with a passionate fanbase singing along, this Ninth Wave will have you jumping around and dancing to their catchy melodies.

We live in a hybrid world now with information at our fingertips. The web app was a great addition to the festival, however real time updates with delays could be a great time saver for events going forward, it would also allow us to check out more of the fabulous acts on offer across the festival.

I cannot fault the programming on this event, with various styles and genres being recognised.

The venues chosen really showcase this part of the West End, and it’s really good to see new venues spring up in Maryhill.

The Great Western is multi venue festival I can certainly see becoming a yearly event in my own calendar.

Review by Craig McGee


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Review - Great Western Festival 2021 - Glasgowmusic.co.uk