Paying respect to the full theatricality of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band – the cult Glaswegian glam rockers whose live performances were the stuff of legend – on the Market Bar stage might sound like an impossible task.
But for Gordon Bell – frontman of the fittingly titled tribute act Not the Sensational Alex Harvey Band – it’s hardly a challenge at all. “We came up two years towards the end of the summer,” he explained. “I knew the Market Bar so I kind of wanted to play it. “It just seemed like a bit of a mad thing to do – taking a big band into a small bar like that – so we did!”
They’ll be looking to fill that small bar with the raucous energy that Alex Harvey did when they return tonight – but it isn’t just a carbon copy they’ll be peddling.
“We play around with it,” Gordon said. “We ARE a tribute band, essentially, but what we don’t do is do one-to-one.
“We just try to get our own energy into it and make it breathe through that, because I think when you try to copy too much you get a bit too locked into what the original band did.”
And the band brings their own forms of theatricality to their live show, thanks to the inclusion of dancer Ina Fish. “She takes inspiration from the lyrics or whatever, and does something a bit...slightly odd. She’s also the daughter of the bassist, so we have to watch how far we push her!
“But she’s actually pretty keen for anything really, so we’re lucky that she comes along – and she makes it something special. We sometimes play without her, but it’s not quite the same, it’s always better with her.
“She’s very much a member of the band.”
It took about three years for the band to form – Gordon was the first to join, answering an advert by guitarist Hanspeter Staub.
While the rest of the band are all Swiss – all of the members originally lived in Zurich when they first formed – Gordon is himself from Glasgow – the hometown of Alex Harvey himself.
“I went to Switzerland to learn to ski,” he said. “I was going to stay a year, and just come back, but then I met a woman over there. I’ve been here 18 years now – it’s home, really.”
Since the band formed eight years ago, Not the Sensational Alex Harvey Band have gradually been building their own dedicated fanbase. “We come over once a year normally and it’s really grown now, especially in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“When we started out we had about ten or fifteen people coming, but now we’re getting about 100 folk coming out. We keep it to small venues, but it’s a really nice evening.
“A lot of the time it’s people who are very much connected to the band at the time, like they were really big fans who used to go to all their shows, so they actually know the band.”
And several members of the original Sensational Alex Harvey Band themselves count themselves as big fans of what the tribute act are doing. “Chris Glen, the bassist, comes out every time we play Glasgow. The guitarist Alistair (Zal), he’s come out as well, he lent us a guitar for the tour.
“We’ve met Ted, Max – the singer who sang for a while when they were together recently – has come along as well. It’s almost like a big family now.”
It’s an inclusive family at that, as Gordon promises that there’ll be something for everyone – Alex Harvey fan or not – on the night. “Newcomers can expect to be entertained – that we can guarantee!” he laughs.
“It’s a celebration of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band in reality. It’s just a bit of the mayhem, a bit of the energy, a bit of the rock and it’s a fun evening!
“It’s entertaining, it’s a spectacle, it’s a bit of a show. It’s not just the music. We’re something to watch for one and a half hours that might be slightly better than the television!”
Not the Sensational Alex Harvey Band plays the Market Bar on Thursday, April 20. The gig begins at 10.30pm, and entry is free.