Last Thursday Scottish punk masters The Vaselines captivated a sold out Johnny Brenda’s. Scorching through a 22-song set, they were a brilliant act to behold. And with Philly-based Amanda X opening, it was a perfect night of rock, both old and new.
Led by the charming duo of Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, The Vaselines were entertaining in both song and banter. Their works immortalized by Nirvana — “Son of a Gun,” “Molly’s Lips” and “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” — were riveting, with “Jesus” having a seeming air of nuanced poignancy. (And despite a seemingly out-of-place request by the audience of a Nirvana cover, they even played a brief riff from “Come as You Are.”)
Their newest record, 2014’s V for Vaselines, was well represented, most especially by the catchy “High Tide Low Tide.” With shared vocal and guitar duties, Kelly and McKee are a tight mixture of harmonies and guitar hooks. Their backing band of drummer Michael McGaughrin, guitarist Scott Paterson and bassist Graeme Smille helped to flesh out the edges and muscle of The Vaselines’ Glasgow grit.
McKee added to their musical persona with some humorous banter. She welcomed people to join the church of The Vaselines, where anyone is welcome. When this metaphor was not being added to, she also ventured into the tawdry world of sex. With a smile and a wink, McKee added some light-hearted laughter to the night.
As a band that one audience member declared to have saved his teenage life, The Vaselines have punk flowing their veins and lyrics. And on this second night of a rare U.S. tour for them, they ruled the rock minds of Philadelphia.
Up-and-coming Philly power trio Amanda X were an outstanding opener. With their debut 2014 album Amnesia to cull their setlist from, the trio of Cat Park, Tiff Yoon and Kat Bean proved to be a tightly knit punk treat. A definite highlight was “Dream House,” with its evocative vocals sounding like nothing else. And some of the band even came on with The Vaselines to honk bike horns on “Molly’s Lips.” They will continue the journey of opening for The Vaselines until the 22nd in Minneapolis.
The Day I Was A Horse
High Tide Low Tide
Sex With An X
One Lost Year
Such A Fool
I Hate The 80s
Earth Is Speeding
Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam
Devil Inside Me
Let’s Get Ugly
Son Of A Gun