Scottish astonishment at the strangeness of gigging in London, justifiably so, marks comments from The View between songs at the Brooklyn Bowl, out at Greenwich’s O2: “I like this venue, but it’s a pain in the arse to get to,” says guitarist Pete Reilly. “Yous enjoying your six quid drinks?”
Normally, filtering out of a venue reinforces the communal experience of a gig. After The View tonight, everyone leaving should be chatting about the cheerful and boisterous stage invasion that ends the 20-song show. Instead, The View’s little crowd is swallowed up by the huge bland morass of spectators from Jeff Lynne’s ELO, who’ve just ended at the arena. So, The View have to contend with a strange dome venue, where people on one side are bowling and with some of the audience sitting on bar stools at tall tables, each lit by a candle, below huge rotating ceiling fans. There’s loads of space and, excellently, no crowd barrier. To their credit, in the end, The View triumph, partly because of the closeness of the audience.
Bravely, the lads from Dundee open with ‘Glass Smash’ from their unloved second album, ‘Which Bitch?’ (2009). There’s a secret fifth band member on synths, and drummer Steven Morrison shows he means business by starting topless as he ratchets up the pace with rapid-fire drum rolls. ‘Grace’, a single from 2011’s ‘Bread and Circuses’ ticks all the indie-pop boxes, but the show really gets going with ‘Wasted Little DJs’, the first of seven tracks from their January 2007 No 1 LP ‘Hats Off to the Buskers’.
But The View are resolutely not just about nostalgia for their chart-topping days. Last year’s ‘Ropewalk’ was well received and they play four tracks from it, starting with ‘Living’ — like the acoustic ‘Face for the Radio’ from their debut EP 10 years ago, faithfully rendered tonight, the track reveals the songwriting influence of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze. ‘Ropewalk’s third single, ‘Under the Rug’, is one of the group’s strongest, catchiest melodies tonight, demonstrating their recent return to form.
The View use the middle of the set to add some variety. Bassist Kieren Webster takes over from Kyle Falconer as singer at centre stage for oldie ‘Skag Trendy’, ‘Realisation’ from 2009 and ‘Cracks’, a Caledonian narrative rock rap from the new album. Webster clears off for Falconer’s acoustic turn at the start of ‘Face for the Radio’, coming back in time for ‘The Don’ and ‘Wasteland’ from ‘Hats Off…’, which belong more to a lineage that goes through The Libertines from The Clash than to later indie landfill.
The smallish crowd are increasingly mobile, and seem keen to make the most of the gig. Screams from girls at the front and the chant of “The View, The View, The View are on fire” accompany ‘Happy’ and ‘Walls’ from ‘Bread and Circuses’ earlier in the set. There’s a hint of reggae-tinged guitar, again recalling The Clash, and and a few dedicated fans start to bop along.
More outbursts of dancing follow, as the single ‘How Long’ from 2012 puts power pop chords together with calibrated feedback and a singalong chorus. An hour into the set, the crowd enjoys poppy new song ‘Voodoo Doll’ and danceable older singles ‘Shock Horror’ and ’Sunday’, which drives along in a Springsteen-like way. But it’s ‘Same Jeans’ that really gets everyone going, almost moshing and singing along, until The View tack on an ending from rock classic ‘Louie Louie’ and announce the final song, ‘Superstar Tradesman’. That’s when the crowd takes over — singing for the band, invading the stage, spilling beer and chanting that “The View are on fire”.
As if on cue, while the audience drifts out, the PA announces: “Attention please, attention please, fire has been reported in the building. Please leave immediately by the nearest exit.” Unsurprisingly, this prompts a final lingering rendition of the chant, “The View, The View, The View are on fire.”
This The View article was written by Ian Bourne, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo by Ian Bourne