photos by Colin McQuillen Two Thumbs Fresh Photography


MONDAY 21st December 2009. The first snow has fallen, still falls and a layer of  glitter glue ice covers Dundee.  More is to come but that hasn’t stopped the kids flaunting stilettos, bare skin, pre-Christmas new clothes.  Plus school is out tomorrow.  They got a ticket to see The View – Christmas doesn’t get much better. Despite the gig being very last minute with tickets on sale only a couple of days ago, it’s been sold out. There are touts out and about asking for tickets but it’s not happening.

Inside, The Twist are playing. Recently joined by Ronnie Falconer from broken-up Brogues. The set is lively, full-on and this band are always adored by this crowd. They are the generation that were inspired by The View so they are the real testament to the band’s success.

It doesn’t matter it’s 7.50pm – the party is well underway. Next up, are The Mirror Trap, a unique new band from Dundee but in a totally different style. With pokey, black spiky legs and hair straight out of a sculpture class, their sound also mirrors the 80s and early 90s – the delicious rush of reverb from Echo and The Bunnymen and My Bloody Valentine. The crowd is mesmerised and bewitched by the dark, ominous chord bridge at the end of the first song; there is no need for vocals here as the sounds tell the story and the band receive whistles back already. The second song leaps into crashing chords – maybe a wee bit too much as the ascent of  melody drowns the vocals. The crowd appreciate the Twilighty atmosphere: ‘You’ll live forever inside in time.’ The Mirror trap are a seductive unit with already an impressive and diverse live performance.

There’s half an hour now til The View appear. Steve O’Neill, their longsuffering roadie/tour manager, comes onstage to soundcheck a guitar and, of all the riffs he could use, does the one from Wasted Little Deejays so everybody starts screaming, banging heads and grabbing elbows. 9.07pm. The blue lights go on. More screams and the chants start: ‘The View, the View are on fire’.  At last they enter.  Kieren comes to the mic: ‘Merry Christmas, Dundee!’

Out in front, a little slap escalates into a fight as ‘Glass Smash’ crescendo intro provides the soundtrack.  Yellow men appear and pare flailing bodies apart. Others are on shoulders as the furious chords and cymbals become as smolten metal melded into one big roar of emotion.  The View’s genius lies in their ability to articulate emotions, places and stories into a complex, beautiful yet immediate soundscape; they cease to be a fourpiece and become a onepiece: one sound, one feeling which sweeps you away with its tsunami force – be it a wee fourline ballad like Typical Time or a rage of adrenalin-fuelled adoration as in ‘Glass Smash’.

‘Cheers  Dundee and cheers for coming out at the last minute. Best gig of the year!’ calls Kieren as ‘Five Rebbeccas’ starts up. Bodies are on shoulders, arms in the air, the crowd as enthusiastic as if it was 2005 again. Probably 60% of the crowd are under 18 and they have an added intensity in singing back ‘turned into a junkie’ – every schoolkid’s fear.

The next song is casually announced as being ‘off our first album, Hats Off To The Buskers. We used to play it at The Doghouse.’ Kyle calls out: Dundee – Lochee, Charleston, Polepark..’ and various other schemes in Dundee before the song which results in a euphoric mayhem.
‘You having a good time?’ from Kieren is probably the euphemisim of the year.  The next song is the sweet melodic ballad ‘The Don’ followed by the ecstatic delight of ‘Temptation Dice’. Kyle’s voice is beyond belief tonight, dipping and soaring like some untamed wild thing on its own emotional trajectory. ‘Treeeaat!’ in the final chorus reaches for the rafters and beyond. After this, Kieren takes the lead. He seems to feel the need to apologise for this,as if too aware that people prefer Kyle at the front. But it’s not true as ‘One Off Pretender’ and ‘Skag Trendy’ are firm favourites. He dedicates the former appropriately enough to his mum on the balcony. Drummer Steven Morrison goes straight from ‘One Off’ into ‘Skag Trendy’ – a song never more pertinent with more skag trendies around than ever before.

‘Wasteland’ is young Dundee’s anthem, a feral but majestic polemic against the pressures to accept your lot and keep your head down. Everyone can readily and easily feel these intense highs and lows but The View’s real dexterity is demonstrated in their melodic articulations of more intricate emotions/situations.  Reni takes the keyboards in ‘Covers’ which has everyone singing along. Kyle is almost dwarfed by his acoustic guitar. It is the ballads that stick in your head, the ballads which end up as ringtones, bus driver’s whistles, or sung on car roofs at parties.
‘Face for The Radio’ is lighter-waving material – the only song which drowns out Kyle’s searing vocal as everyone is singing their heart out here, its bittersweetness and fond memory almost tangible.

Kieren again apologetically takes the mic: ‘I’m back again. I promise this is the last time I’ll be here. Reni, Kyle and me wrote this song: Realisation.’
‘Realisation’ is to young Scotland what ‘Wasteland’ is to Dundee. Bodies are on shoulders swaying.

‘Give Me Back The Sun’ sends shivers down my spine. A simple anecdote which makes an aching abbey out of the everyday – the song that captures a moment where the present caught at dreams. Kyle’s vocals are clear as a bell.  This song shows the band’s ability to merge the ordinary with extraordinary yearnings to capture the essence of rock- creating a sound people can get behind and believe in.

Then comes the real Christmas present. Kyle:’Do you want to hear our new tunes? We’ve been stuck in the studio for months but this is going to be the best album ever. This is a wee preview.’

The band members may look occasionally like a motley crew but they can sing and harmonise like good Catholic choirboys as ‘Glass Smash’s intro proves but ‘Happy’ really goes beyond this. The acapello starts: ‘I wasn’t born to make you happy; I wasn’t born to make you sad’ soars high over thumping guitars. The chorus is painfully tender in its reach: ‘Sweet surrender’ before bleeding into a bridge shredding such a hope to bits. 

The second song 'Walls' is raw and rigorous, with its uncanny rhythm forming the real lyrics of the song rather than its words.  It is an instinctive powerhouse of a song.

‘Comin’ Down’ is precisely that after such gems. The crowd really does suddenly see the difference.  It is remarkable how far The View have come in three years. This song is the first time the crowd is less than animated but this soon ends with The Clash riff introducing ‘Same Jeans’ superseded by Kieren’s ‘Let’s go for it.  It’s Christmas!’  ‘Superstar Tradesman’ ‘s rapture is followed by the finale: ‘Shock Shock Horror’ when the real clapping starts. Every hand, everybody is in the air. Nobody here has forgotten how to clap their hands tonight.

Then it’s out into the cold, bitter white Scottish night. Like Christmas, you wait all year for it and then it’s all over. Still, just like our snow, there’s more, much more to come.

And some things really are worth waiting for.