1620460_688575384499308_772013810_n– THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER –

I love a good freebie. If it’s going free, I’m on it. I’ve always got a keen eye on Twitter, looking for whatever I can get my claws on. So I was delighted when it was announced a couple of months back that the rad Glaswegian three piece Paws would not only be returning to Manchester, but playing a free show at The Castle.

So it’s Thursday night, and I’m off to The Castle to get my free dose of Paws. I got there early to catch the support, Manchester cool kids Bad Grammar. But what’s this? They’re outside the venue, and Paws are nowhere to be seen. Word soon comes across that the headliners are stuck in traffic, having played London the night before. Nightmare! I knew it was too good to be true…I had it in mind that the show was going to be intimate and sweaty as hell, but I never thought it might have been cancelled.

Thankfully, before the sound guy twiddled his thumbs to the bone, the Scots arrive and the show is back on, a little later than scheduled. Despite the late start, the room fills up for Bad Grammar, and even though front man Ben confesses that he’s still under the weather, they put on a killer performance. I’ve seen this duo a bunch of times, and it’s never a dull moment. The guitar sound becomes a minor issue, but I put that down to the array of colours Ben must be seeing in the haze of his illness. The crowd are into it though, and really receptive.

Half hour passes in the blink of an eye. A few more punters squeeze their way into the room, and Paws take to the stage. I first saw these guys supporting their buddies We Are Scientists at Gorilla this time last year, and they blew me away. Tonight is no different, and their earlier troubles getting to Manchester don’t seem to have dampened their spirits. For the first few tracks, front man Phillip continually tries to get people moving toward the stage, and it’s a phenomena I’m still not sure about myself – People seem to fear the front of stage, electing to stand at the back, in the shadows. What are they afraid of? Quipping that the crowd are shy, just like themselves, the band don’t go overboard on the patter, and mostly just cane it through the set.

Paws’ new record Youth Culture Forever came out in the UK this week, and a lot of it is dotted throughout the set. The new record is pretty incredible, and the new tunes sound fantastic live. The drummer is an absolute beast, and even though he seems to be going a million miles per hour, I’m amazed at his stoic expression throughout the whole set. As a band they’re incredibly tight, and it’s clear through their on stage interactions that that’s not just in playing terms – They’re a bunch of pals from back home in Scotland, playing their rad songs around the world.

The closer from the new record is also the last song of the evening, and the drum kit is moved into the audience for the occasion. Getting incredibly up close and personal, the drummer and bassist both thrash through ‘War Cry’ in amongst the crowd, whilst the riffs are supplied from on stage. At the song’s finale, I’m ready for more, but also ready for bed. A mammoth chat with front man Phillip follows their set, and I’m away, buzzing from what I’ve just witnessed and using this to keep me warm in the evening’s cold.

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Andy Hughes

Hi, I'm Andy.I'm the man behind Birthday Cake for Breakfast, a site featuring music news, reviews and interviews.Big believer in Birthday Cake, Pizza, math rock and beer (preferably all in one sitting.) I spend my mornings daydreaming about gigs and my evenings going to gigs. Lunch times are spent walking about town listening to Tom Waits.'Id rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy'