We’ve circled Glasgow city centre several times – not on some cheap tour of the city’s many and varying industrial ruins, but to find a car park. Four of us have driven an hour across Scotland to the ABC o2, Glasgow. We skipped dinner and opted instead for cardboard takeaway chips which we are presently stuffing in our fat faces as we try to locate this elusive music establishment that turns out to be…just over there. Doors opened at 6.30. A glance at the time suggests we’re almost an hour late. It’s deserted outside but for the bouncers. Inside we collect our tickets and the guy in the booth sounds surprised that we’re going up now. “You’re going up now?” he says. Why, have we missed something?
This is a week after the passing of Robin Gibb, and fittingly – although completely unintentionally, I must add, this wasn’t some quick leap onto the Bee Gee-band wagon thing – we were there to see Tragedy: the all-metal tribute to the Bee Gees. That’s Tragedy the best all-metal tribute to the Bee Gees in the entire world.
If you have not previously heard of or seen Tragedy the best all-metal tribute to the Bee Gees in the entire world, and are unable to fathom what exactly they are, then allow me to explain the concept: they are a Bee Gees’ tribute act that plays metal versions of Bee Gees songs.
At 7.30 there are about thirty people spread out in the dim room decorated with a single poster for a phone company. By the time Tragedy hit the stage at 8.30 there are maybe 35 at a push. One of whom is dressed as a wolf. It’s a humble crowd, but responsive and dedicated.
The band comes out in matching spangly black waistcoats and bulging glittery Spandex leggings, they’ve set off glitter bombs in their faces. They used to have a trio of backing singers but apparently they upped and left. The band now consists of the three brothers, Barry and Maurice on guitars and vocals, Robin: vocals, tambourine, backing dancing and occasional guitar, the lesser known brother on bass, and a distant relative on drums.
Firstly everyone raises their hands aloft to the memory of Robin. A nice touch. Then Barry calls out: “Are you ready for a little Jive Talkin’?” And so the night progresses with an array of Bee Gees’ classics and endless innuendos. ‘How Deep Is Your Love?’, ‘Night Fever’, ‘You Should Be Dancing’. It’s all done with a wry smile and touch of humour, naturally, but beneath that is the inescapable awareness that those Bee Gees wrote some damn good songs.
And tonight it’s not just Bee Gees’ classics. The band is branching out. We get a glimpse of some ‘side projects’. There’s Leo Slayer, Black Abbath, performing a ripping rendition of ‘Dancing Queen’, and rounding off the encore section is a tribute to another recently deceased disco star in the guise of Donna Bummer.
Tragedy have been coming back to the UK for six years. They’ve supported Motorhead – I saw them first supporting Electric Six (incidentally, they stole the show) – and here they are in Glasgow on an unusually sunny early evening in May in front of the best part of forty people. But like any good band, that doesn’t stop them putting on a great show and getting their roadie Lance to douse the crowd in glitter. They pull half the female contingency from the crowd on stage, and even get one willing volunteer to take over on guitar (though, while the Gibbs come off stage to watch, the poor guy is left to his own devices trying to figure out what key they are playing in and ends up awkwardly straddling the guitar until the drum and bass fades out.)
We leave Glasgow satisfied, covered in glitter, accompanied by a freshly signed CD and a high-pitched ringing in our ears.
You don’t necessarily need to like the Bee Gees in order to love Tragedy, but it helps.
Review by Liam McKenna