A Lighter Side of Life – The Last Internationale – King Tuts Wah Wah Club, Glasgow – 13th June, 2019
The last five years have been a rollercoaster of a ride for The Last Internationale, the New York power trio who wear their social conscience on their sleeves. When last in Glasgow in 2014, they played a quite startling gig as support to Robert Plant at the O2 Academy which will long burn in the memory of those fortunate enough to be there. At that point in time, they had a record deal with a major label and were riding on the We Will Reign album which was jam-packed with the sort of songs which should have seen them firmly established in the public consciousness. By all accounts, however, their social activism did not eventually sit comfortably with the control that a major label expected to have, and it all came to an abrupt end – although it did produce some very memorable output whilst it lasted.
Whatever the details of the history, it has meant that half a decade has now passed without an album with new material to emerge. But, although Soul on Fire has now arrived as an independent release, momentum and interest has undoubtedly been lost. Despite the new album being a powerful grower, it garnered few reviews at the time of its launch 3 months ago.
And so, singer/bassist Delila Paz and guitarist, Edgey Pires, the mainstays of the trio, are playing much smaller gigs like this one. That said, from one point of view, King Tuts is exactly the type of intimate venue where you would wish to see any rock band, a room that holds around a couple of hundred people with the performers close at hand and at eye level. Delila Paz uses this to her advantage by blurring the lines further, walking amongst the audience or inviting members of the audience up on stage to dance along with them.
The concert opens with a quick-fire duo of favourites, Killing Fields and Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Indian Blood. This sets the template with Paz’s impassioned soulful vocals (there is little question that she is one of the most emotionally charged vocalists around) and Pires’s power chords and bluesy guitar shredding. Both manage to move around on the cramped stage to exciting effect and their drummer gives a riveting backdrop to it all. A new song, Hit ‘Em With Your Blues is given a particularly energetic performance. Mid-set, Wanted Man, gives the audience a chance to sing along before Paz gives a thrilling version of Soul on Fire where she name-checks a pantheon of great female singers. The only cover in the set is Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come where Paz is at ease walking through the audience. There is a fine interlude where she sings and plays with just an acoustic guitar to intense effect before the tempo is increased again to a heavy punky sound for the closing numbers. The concert finishes with the songs, Hard Times and 1968 with a few audience members accepting the invitation to get onto the stage.
Often in such a small venue, the audience can be the 12thman (to use a footballing phrase) but although they are appreciative throughout, there is a lack of noise from a Thursday night crowd who are mainly much older than the band. The band are to be praised for trying very hard to raise the energy levels of the crowd even though this is one aspect where they don’t quite succeed. But, TLI have clearly encountered far worse odds than that and have come through them. A band to treasure.