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Glass Towers assembled one by one on the stage of The Toff to the sound of Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll (Part 2), while the crowd chanted along with every “Hey!” The band were boy-faced, skinny and clad in denim and swagger.
They’ve been praised as encompassing – embodying, even – everything that one could remark on as being youthful: the idealism, the energy, the contradictions, the naivety, the eggshell heart, the carefree abandon. But the one thing everyone almost surely forgets when discussing the matter is the charisma.
Lead vocalist Ben Hannam, his band and his songs display a fantastic charisma, a charisma that is idealistic, energetic, contradictory, naïve, carefree and possesses a very large and beating eggshell heart. The songs are frenetic, shoegazey rockers that have been distilled into a putty and squeezed into a pop song mould.
Live they took advantage of every progress in amplification made over the last two decades. Guitarist Sam Speck, who looked like a 12-year-old Julian Casablancas who’d just smoked pot for the first time, bended and manipulated his Rickenbacker till it channeled into frequencies broadcast straight from the Creation Records Studios in the ’80s.
Cameron Holdstock on bass and Daniel Muszynski on drums, despite snare troubles, made for a sharp and dynamic rhythm section. Holdstock in particular provided a thick, anvil-like groove for the noise to swirl around.
Hannam spoke to the audience regularly, addressing them in a laid back and conversational cadence, with charm and aplomb. Occasionally he’d express some agitation at the flat crowd. “You’re a little still tonight, Melbourne. But that’s cool, that’s your style,” he said as pocketfuls of sweat dripped from his forehead.
Other times he’d describe the songs before the on-stage frenzy ensued: “This one’s called Castles, it’s a dancing song.” “This one’s called Jumanji, it’s a dancing song.” “This one’s called You’re Better and you can dance to this one.” “This next one’s called Lust For Life and it’s a dancing song.” Notice a pattern?
After a ramshackle cover of Pavement’s Cut Your Hair, with vocals that sounded considerably better than Stephen Malkmus’ own off-key wailings, they play single Halcyon. Hannam and co continued the energy they’d displayed all night, breaking their bodies over their instruments and draining what was left in the tank.
Hannam kept a constant eye-line while singing. It’s a neat trick — one wonders who or what he was staring so intently at. The band have been kicking around only a short time and it looks like they’re already learning a thing or two. Just hope they don’t lose that youthful charisma.