For the uninitiated, Glam Slam are a local band who embrace sparkles, platforms and play 70’s/80’s inspired rock, with a big dose of glam. Newcastle Live contributor Dan Beazley was given the job of finding out the secret behind this band’s success in packing out rooms around town and across the region with fans that keep coming back for more.
The first time I experienced the Glam Slam juggernaut was during a benefit show for the family of the late and great UJ Neil. I’d heard a lot about Glam Slam before that night and had seen a bunch of shots online (all dressed up in their spandex with feather boas and make up) but as they took to the stage I was still unsure about what to expect.
What I noticed that night was a special something happening between the band and the audience. Something I haven’t seen from a local covers act in a while; Mutual appreciation. The people in the band we’re enjoying the people in the audience and vice versa. They were in it together. Anyone my age (let’s just say 35+) will be puzzled to why I’m pointing this out, I mean that’s what’s meant to happen at a gig isn’t it? But the truth is, the art of entertainers making the audience feel like they’re a part of the show is a dying art. Most ‘cover bands’ set up, play their stuff (usually amazingly well, Newcastle definitely produces some fine musicians) and the crowd either take it or leave it. That didn’t appear to be happening that night and if the gigs I’ve seen the band play since that night are any indication, there’s no chance to be left behind at a Glam Slam show. They just bring you along for the ride whether you like it or not. This is just one element of the band, but in my opinion it’s one of the main reasons why they draw a crowd every time they play.
The music too is something different. Every Newcastle covers band has a good list of hits from the 70’s and 80’s but the songs this band focus on from that era are the real anthems. They play songs that you love but don’t hear down the pub every weekend. There’s no Barnsey or Farnsey here, it’s more Joan Jett and Heart. People love these songs because they get you moving, especially when they’re presented with all the energy of a travelling circus performing on opening night.
So that brings me to the band’s gimmick… GLAM! Everything about the way this band present themselves is overblown and big. It’s like theatre. Gestures are over emphasised, stances are large and strong and there’s a playfulness to their playing. While these are all tried and tested tricks of the trade it’s refreshing to see.
I must admit I was pretty excited when the band’s EP called “Getcha boots On” landed on my desk. Unfortunately it has to be said that the recording of these songs isn’t great, and at times the rhythm seems a little ploddy. Underneath this though are 3 great songs. They all remind me of other songs, but that’s not a bad thing. I think some artists try too hard to be “original” and forget about the end listener. That’s what these songs have going for them… They’re fun to listen to. From the very Suzi Quatro vocal tones and hair band lead guitar on the title track “Getcha Boots On” to the Come Sail Away (by Styx) feel of “Heavenly”, these songs are extremely listenable and refreshingly familiar.
I want to finish my review by urging you to get to a Glam Slam gig. For me this band stands up next to local acts of the past like Skazoo and the Natural Mystics. Bands who were doing something different then what everyone else was doing at the time. Fortunately unlike Skazoo and the Natural Mystics you can see Glam Slam this weekend, and the weekend after. Get to a gig, you won’t regret it.
PHOTOS: Craig Wilson from Swamp House