Ex Hex @ Stereo, Glasgow, 6 Nov
On first listen, Ex Hex seem perfectly straightforward – a dash of Cheap Trick, a smidgen of The Nerves, a whole lotta Joan Jett. So winsome, so forceful, so damn thrilling are their hooks that it’s easy to lose yourself to the rush of Hot And Cold and take it all at face value.
But while their debut album Rips breezes by in 35 minutes of insta-glam power pop, it doesn’t quite convey the glorious energy of their live show; nor the tongues wedged firmly into their cheeks as they throw themselves into knowing rock star poses – sometimes cuz it’s funny, more often cuz they’re having fun. Ex Hex were made for the stage.
They’re on fire tonight: Radio On is effortless magnificence, with a Modern Lovers-referencing chorus that feels like it’s etched indelibly onto your memory even as you experience it for the first time. Likewise the sugary brilliance of Don’t Wanna Lose zips by in a blur of E numbers, with Mary Timony’s right arm held aloft after a crashing power chord: half in salute, half as a command for our attention.
Betsy Wright’s star turn on How You Got That Girl sees the room burst into enraptured ‘woah-oh-oh’ singalong mode, but it’s the wracked intensity of Beast that wins the night, as garage squall explodes into a fiery psych workout worthy of Thee Oh Sees at their most molten. A thrilling conclusion takes in Timony’s spectacularly fluid axework and bubblegum riffology, as the band collapse into sweaty puddles on the floor.
It’s been brief, with no new songs save a cover of The Sweet’s Fox On The Run, but no-one leaves feeling cheated. Notebooks out, plagiarists: this is how you put on a rock show.