CONCERT REVIEW : Arab Strap @ Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom, Friday 10th September 2021

Photo Credit Stephen Wilson 

Arab Strap @ Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom, Friday 10th September 2021


Indie rockers Arab Strap return to Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom for a triumphant sell out show in front of 1800 mask yielding fans as they promote their latest release As Days Get Dark, the band’s first collection of new recordings in 16 years.

Arab Strap are Aidan Moffat on vocals and Malcolm Middleton on a variety of instruments.  Hailing from Falkirk in Stirlingshire, they formed the band around 1995 and released their debut album The Week Never Starts Round Here a year later.  They officially split in 2006 but reformed 10 years later in 2016 with a series of comeback shows, which included 2 sell out nights at this evening’s venue.  Tonight sees them back at the iconic ballroom, and their army of fans were in for a terrific gig.

As the lights dimmed, and the pulsating beats played out, the backdrop was set in bright red spotlights, every photographer’s dream, as the band took to the stage.  Opening with The Turning of Our Bones, the songs have a dark, slightly depressing tone, the lyrics are honest, sometimes humorous and played to a melodic backing tune.  They often tell a tale of drugs or alcohol dependency interspersed with scenes of a sexual nature.


Continuing with Fucking Little Bastards, Compersion Pt 1 and New Birds, the set delves into all stages of the bands stop – start career, and covers all bases to please even the fussiest of fans.  Kebabylon, Piglet, Girls of Summer and Direction of Strong Man, the tracks come thick and fast, Moffat narrates the songs wonderfully as if telling a woeful tale to his pals down the pub, tales of bitterness, bleak, dark times, some tracks paint a picture of a Britain desolated by Thatcherism accompanied by an indie inspired dance riff, the words are captivating and the music hypnotic.

The songs were greeted with big cheers, none more so than The First Big Weekend, a story of getting so drunk you pass out, miss the football, wake later to find out the score, then go out for more drink and to chat up women. Im sure plenty in the audience could relate to weekends like that.  Ah, the memories…

The set closed with acoustic numbers Packs of Three and The Shy Retirer, and another Arab Strap Barrowlands gig was over.  A band I must admit to being unfamiliar with before the evening, but listening to them, there’s certainly something about their brand of music, backed up by the huge crowd waiting to get into the venue when I arrived.  This is what nights like this are good for, hearing something new, or just hearing stuff you love, played live, which would be the case for the body of the hall this evening.  First class!

Review and photographs by Stephen Wilson 

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