Adam Ficek @ Pivo Pivo, Glasgow

By: Sharon Burke

Adam Ficek @ Pivo Pivo, Glasgow
Adam Ficek

Following the Roses Kings Castles launch tour of Suburban Timebombs, Adam Ficek fulfilled his promise of a solo visit to Scotland's cultural hotspot to perform an acoustic set in Pivo Pivo, Glasgow. The December launch of his second album marked a milestone in Ficek's solo career, which has become a kaleidoscope of full-band gigs, DJ sets, and fleeting expeditions to Europe and Asia. After Ficek announced on his blog that the Scottish gigs might be the last solo acoustic performances for some time, due to plans to tour with a full band, I popped the dates into my gig diary.

It doesn't take a genius to realise that current economic trends are affecting more than faceless urban institutions. Musicians, especially those ‘going it alone', struggle to book gigs, sell out shows, make profits on releases, promote projects, and advertise releases without placing an financial obstacle in their direct path. With widespread media-fuelled panic encouraging youngsters to tighten their money-belts and hoard every halfpenny to fund their own ends, gigs and album purchases become less of a priority and more of a luxury.

It's terrifyingly easy to get caught up in the surf.

Yet some broke out of that vicious circle on an almost-summery Sunday evening, to witness Adam's startlingly-honest words appear like chameleons within his melodies. Few of his contemporaries can claim the same combination of wit, wisdom and capacity to pull a cracking good tune together. After touring solidly since 2008, Roses Kings Castles front-man has learnt how to draw a crowd back, again and again.

Suburban Timebombs is itself sufficient proof of this; its symbolic title traces the panic, sadness and sense of suppression within the tracks. In a live setting the album gleams in the dark like artificially-whitened teeth; it makes you glance twice.

A Sunday evening at Pivo Pivo provided an assortment of gig-goers from the very young to the nearly-quite-old, from former Babyshambles fanatics to full-time Ficek followers. An enthusiastic crowd provided support in the form of wigs fashioned from miniature light bulbs, the usual cacophony of catcalls, a disobedient lights display, and a stream of unintelligible words of encouragement from the less-sober edges of the audience.

Ficek, as usual, acknowledged all drunken declarations of love good-naturedly, and proceeded to play his songs with the assurance and serenity of a maestro. Tunes from Suburban Timebombs such as ‘I Killed You', ‘Subtleties Of Love' and the popular ‘One Born Every Minute' pacified the energetic Glaswegian flock. Banter with the audience infused the intimate venue with a friendly ambience, for which the city is renowned.

Yet it was the relatively new track ‘Inner Love In Outer Space' which really gripped the crowd, whose faces mirrored the sorrow evoked by the song Adam describes as his ‘love song'. This is a song which will tiptoe back into your ears while on the bus home, which will infuse your journey with its lingering chords and accompany you to work in the foggy Scottish morning. As soft as a lullaby and as sad as an elegy, this song has the strength to silence an entire industrial city when played acoustically.

With demands for two encores and a packed-out audience, the Glasgow performance could be dubbed a resounding success. His popularity in far-flung cities, especially north of the border, illustrates the change which has taken place in Adam Ficek's career since 2008, and confirms his growing fandom outside of London's scope.

With the turbulence of former projects placed firmly in the past, Ficek has carved himself a niche in which to perform and actualise the sounds which, formerly ideas, have become well-loved records.

Video: "Subtleties Of Love" by Adam Ficek

 

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