NewDad @ Saint Luke's, Glasgow, 26 Feb

Papa was a rolling drone... Galway indie-poppers NewDad come to life when they stop the shoegazing as they bring their debut album to Glasgow

Live Review by Andrew Williams | 28 Feb 2024
  • NewDad

NewDad begin tonight’s sell-out gig at Saint Luke’s with a wash of sound so ethereal you might be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into a show by their compatriot Enya. And the shoegaze checklist doesn’t end there. Pedals galore? You bet. Chorused vocals produced to within an inch of their life? Affirmative. Crowd swaying hypnotically down the front? But of course. 

That’s not to say that NewDad can’t pump up the volume, or the energy levels, when they want to. While the tracks from new album Madra are politely received, it’s the earlier songs that really get the crowd excited. By the time we get to I Don’t Recognise You from debut EP Waves, we may not quite have a mosh pit, but it’s not far off. 

Energetic locals Spyres are here in support and impress with their blend of The B-52's-meet-Belly fuzzed-up pop. Having recently secured a spot at SxSW, they've clearly picked up a few tips on how to work the crowd.

The question is whether NewDad might learn anything from this focused approach. Do they want to go down the cerebral shoegaze route, with all the critical acclaim (but no mansions) that might bring? Are they really just a pop group wrapped up in distortion pedals, which would be no bad thing? Perhaps they don’t have to choose. Isn’t it possible they might make a success of their TRNSMT slot in the summer, while also hanging on to a hardcore fan base that clearly appreciates their current approach?

There’s a moment two-thirds of the way through tonight’s set when lead singer Julie Dawson puts down her guitar and just sings, and – as if by magic – it all seems to click into place. They look like a band rather than a selection of pedals and effects. If that sounds harsh, it’s only because the songs clearly deserve the widest possible audience. This is ably demonstrated by the solo acoustic rendition of White Ribbons, which holds the crowd spellbound and pin-drop quiet before the wall of sound picks up again for a closer of album title track Madra. 

A neat summary of the conundrum of NewDad comes with their obligatory cover halfway through tonight’s set. “This one’s for all the 6Music Dads!” proclaims Dawson before they launch into The Cure’s Just Like Heaven. You can imagine most of the aforementioned 6MDs mumbling, “actually, Dinosaur Jr already did a cover of this one”, but that’s why they’re at the back choosing an expensive can of IPA rather than down the front with the cool kids. For some, it might feel like there’s little new here. But for a new generation of shoegaze converts, NewDad have their foot to the floor, pedal to the metal.