LIVE REVIEW: Drab Majesty @ Room 2, Glasgow

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Today’s intransigent storm gallops throughout the day, yet pauses for the new wave act DRAB MAJESTY as they descend on Glasgow. This marks the duo’s return to Scotland’s largest metropolis since 2019’s performance. Their local admirer numbers have ballooned since then, with the Americans playing a sweaty Room 2, instead of Broadcast‘s humble basement. The storm seemingly deterred no punters tonight; the venue is uncomfortably busy before the opening act takes the stage.

Tonight’s truly an exhibition of unapologetic 80s nostalgic revelry. The first act of the night is the Italian-American three-piece NUOVO TESTAMENTO. Armed with sun-slicked 80s new wave anthems combined with Italo-disco accessories, the band broadcasts prime cut after prime cut of keyboard and electric drumming dancing commands that tickle the rose-tinted nostalgia sweet spot. Chelsea Crowley‘s voice is a dead ringer for early MADONNA and her stage presence is assured and engaging. She looks like she’s been plucked from literally any classic new wave video, no doubt donned in authentic vintage garb. Her aesthetic looks somewhat jarring next to the drummer Giacomo Zatti, emblazoned with far more contemporary-styled tattoos and hairstyle, an anchor to the present. What he lacks in 80s revival fashion though, he makes up for with unfaltering frenetic energy. He truly nails those electronic drums, arms wildly flailing like a man possessed for the whole set.

This year, NUOVO TESTAMENTO released their sophomore effort Love Lines. It’s manifestly a record they’re proud of as it dominates the setlist. It’s a struggle to resist grooving along to the likes of Heartbeat, Heat and Get Closer. These pop anthems are charming earworms and highly memorable, something that cannot be spoken about many revival acts. While they are energetic fans in the front, plenty who only watched motionless at the start are now bopping their heads and swaying their hips. The debut album New Earth demonstrates the act’s evolutionary origins. Michelle, Michelle, Vanity and The Searcher employ a more serious post-punk tone. The songs are less catchy but still entertaining and vary the mood. This was a striking choice of support who really understand the anatomy of a resplendent live show and music engineered to get the audience moving. It’s nigh on impossible that NUOVO TESTAMENTO will be forgotten anytime soon.

Rating: 9/10

While the smoke machine strangulates the stage, the headliners DRAB MAJESTY float onto the stage. Bedecked in black suits, ties and white shirts with their trademark ebony sunglasses, argent-painted faces and peroxided hair, the two-piece comfortably unfurl into the wordless Hath No Form. This segues into the gorgeous Dot In The Sky, modern new wave at its most escapist and earnest.

The volume is much louder than for NUOVO TESTAMENTO, escalating Deb Demure‘s oneiric guitar melodies and Mona D‘s ethereal synths. After the first song or two to right the minor engineering wrongs, the venue affords the band with a commendably clear sound. The cocktail of partially-obscuring smoke, projected trippy visualisations and the stark look of the musicians creates an unusually monolithic scene with a tangible sentiment. Room 2 is bleeding lofty temperatures now, which contributes to the ecstasy.

Embracing darkwave, synthpop, post-punk, ethereal and dream pop, DRAB MAJESTY take notes from the likes of THE CURE, JOY DIVISION, COCTEAU TWINS and CRANES. Sometimes the tracks bequeath a forlorn observation but at other times, they’re meekly hopeful. Favourably, the duo insist on being crowd-pleasers and give the fans what they want (except those who love their first album Careless, which certainly includes this reviewer). Their most beloved songs are served, including Ellipsis, 39 By Design, Oxytocin, Long Division, Too Soon To Tell and Cold Souls. The crowd are buoyed by this selection of songs, demonstrating their pleasure with weighty ovations.

Most recently, these Americans released an EP entitled An Object In Motion, a departure from their previously established sound. This fresher material treads a shoegaze course, knowingly nodding at acts like SLOWDIVE, RIDE and LUSH. It’s always promising to see a musical collective progress their sound and maintain quality, but there’s always the risk of leaving a live audience unstirred. Fortunately, that isn’t the case here when DRAB MAJESTY perform Vanity and The Skin And The Glove from this new release, the latter closing the set. They sound intoxicating and the crowd sinks their incisors into them readily, absorbed by the dense atmospheric melodies. The pair on stage don’t say a word the whole set, except to applaud everyone for coming out and those on tour, including the support act.

Such a mighty performance demands an encore and the crowd broadly patiently wait for such an opportunity, but alas, Glasgow is deprived of further music from DRAB MAJESTY. For this reason alone, Glasgow is owed another performance soon, ideally not after nearly five years, like last time.

Rating: 9/10

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