Mad Hatters, Inverness
Thursday, March 29
November Lights: ****
SCOTTISH winters have a lot to answer for.
Glasgow Nieves’ first attempt at getting for their latest Highland dates came a cropper back at the start of March after the so-called Beast from the East struck the country, its blizzardous torrents leaving Scotland looking like a slightly grubbier Narnia.
It was worth the wait, and then some. In front of a half-capacity Mad Hatters – a raucous, gleefully rampant crowd that could have been equally at home inside a festival tent – Glasgow alt-rockers Nieves soared.
Support band November Lights – operating tonight as an unplugged two-piece – offered up a pleasant enough start to the evening. As they played through their set, each song showcased an ear for a good hook and a grasp of dynamics – songs like Bring You Home knew when to relax and breathe and when to explode into massive choruses that strive to fill as many square inches of air with their sound as possible.
When Nieves come on and tear into the one-two opener of (You Will) Change and Exist and Expire, they make an expansive sound look effortless – their brand of echoing alt-rock seeps into every corner of the room.
There’s a coiled menace to many of Nieves songs throughout a set heavy in tracks from freshly-released debut album Exist and Expire. The band tear into each song with a vicious passion, as the guitars crackle tremulously and the deep bass of the synths growl and grumble underneath each melody.
As the crowd roared their approval after every song, good-naturedly heckling frontman Brendan Dafters, and generally have the time of their lives, the thought occurs that this is a set that could break a band anywhere – Nieves could bring this set and this level of live performance to Belladrum, or TRNSMT, or any stage really, and tear the roof off with it.
What a joy it is then to still be able to experience this here then, in the intimacy of Mad Hatters. As Nieves and the eager audience together brought the set to a close with a goosebump-inducing sing-along of Winter, it felt like a precious and communal moment shared together.
Something in the tradition of all truly special gigs.
What did you think? Comment below or tweet Kyle: @spp_kwalker