Destroyer @ CCA, Glasgow, 5 Dec

Dan Bejar delivers his complex, highly literate ramblings with the fiery conviction of a hobo preacher

Live Review by Lewis Wade | 06 Dec 2017

Nicholas Krgovich's delicate piano ballads (and The Blue Nile interpolations) open the night, and even the man himself seems a little surprised at the absolute silence in the boxy performance space at the CCA. It probably helps that there's only around 30 people in the room when he starts, but it fills up throughout his set and he notes how, despite the good things about contemporary arts spaces like these, they tend to imbue a sombre atmosphere. “I know I'm not exactly bringing the party, but...” he muses, coyly.

Krgovich's near-constant stage banter makes up for the almost complete lack of interaction from Destroyer. But it's understandable, given the concentration that the whole band seem to put into their performance. Dan Bejar delivers his complex, highly literate ramblings with the fiery conviction of a hobo preacher while the band go all in on the trumpet and saxophone.

On the more bombastic songs, like In the Morning, the force of the arrangement is a little too much for the venue, drowning out the vocals in terms of both bass and noise. But quieter, generally more ruminative cuts like Kaputt or Chinatown work beautifully, especially when the vocals are given space to breathe before a meaty bridge comes in (as on Times Square).

New album, ken, fills out most of the set, but its slinky, danceable vibe fits in perfectly with the snippets of previous albums that make up the rest. Tinseltown Swimming in Blood is a particular highlight of the new material, showcasing Bejar's beautifully evocative imagery alongside tasty synths and a sumptuous drum break.

Bay of Pigs (Detail) arrives late on, providing further evidence that Dan Bejar is operating in a songwriting league of his own, thrilling the suspiciously small Glasgow audience and forcing us to lament the slow death of craftmanship in music, where the appeal of cheap hooks and ephemeral highs so often supersedes thoughtful, understated composition. At least we have Destroyer.