Local Natives – review

Arches, Glasgow
A fan may have stolen their bass guitar, but Local Natives didn't let that derail a spine-tingling performance

Most people would be happy with a T-shirt, or maybe a scribbled setlist. But someone at Local Natives's first Glasgow gig in three years was apparently so moved by their devotional turbo-folk, they walked off with a rare Fender Coronado bass guitar, a kick in the teeth for touring bassist Nik Ewing, who only officially joined the LA five-piece a fortnight ago. While frustrating, it will probably not derail their continued ascent.

Even after just two albums, Local Natives are the sort of band – like Arcade Fire or Fleet Foxes – that fans can give their lives to without fear of having the rug pulled out from under them. They write unashamedly emotional songs that balance rousing melodies with lyrics and orchestration dense enough to burrow inside. Their four-part harmonies invoke the basilica rather than the beach, and are in full spine-tingling effect during an a cappella intro to their arresting cover of Warning Sign by Talking Heads.

The music may be sacrosanct, but they can be funny in person. Taylor Rice, identifiable throughout some deft instrument-swapping by his fine facial hair, likens the dank brickwork of the venue to dungeon-crawling Nintendo classic Legend of Zelda, and introduces the keening Mt Washington as "Ocarina of Time". There are persistent flashes of Life's Rich Pageant-era REM throughout, although on an electronically beefed-up version of You and I – with Kelcey Ayer taking lead vocal – they sound remarkably like Chvrches.

After a sparse start, the sprightly Sun Hands builds into an epic encore of sturm und drang, with massed shouts, crashing drums and eye-searing lights. Many bands would stride off moodily at the height of the stroboscopic chaos. Local Natives enjoy the sustained high, then bring it all back down again for a more intimate sign-off, waving shyly as they leave the stage.

• Did you catch this gig – or any other recently? Tell us about it using #Iwasthere


Graeme Virtue

The GuardianTramp

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