After supporting the likes of Frank Turner and The Levellers it is his turn to headline a tour – and McGowan does not do things half-arsed. 21 dates and a full-throttled approach to each – not bad considering he self-critiques the show as “I butcher songs you’ve heard on Spotify.”
The line-up was somewhat ‘patch-work,’ but instead of the show (and tour) being a disaster he recruited ‘Harry.’ Reminiscing about the conversation between the two a fortnight before the tour, he laughingly adds “I said, don’t worry about earning a living or pissing off your girlfriend.” Harry accepted and his addition was appreciated by both McGowan and the crowd.
An emotionally charged rendition of Springhill preluded by a tale of how his best friend’s mother died just after his eighteenth birthday was followed by “that was heavy, wasn’t it?” proved McGowan‘s ability to translate the downbeat into an optimistic anthem.
His infectiously catchy singer-songwriter approach is one that has been compared to the likes of Billy Bragg and Jamie T, and it would appear that the tracks he was so-called ‘butchering’ went down a treat. The likes of Cuppa Tea is a fan favourite and the Bodega crowd proved exactly why. Snarling lyrics and jagged guitar playing throughout was nothing less than what we expected, and oh boy did McGowan deliver.
Much like Springhill, McGowan‘s ability to portray crushing topics is demonstrated in Auto Pilot. Discussing the themes of the toxicity of drinking culture across a four minute angsty ballad, it is arguably the highlight of the night. Another highlight is McGowan‘s dry yet inviting wit – in particular his inviting nature when saying “sing along if you know the words, make ’em up if you don’t. It’ll be funny as fuck.”
As a whole, the show is one that McGowan made the most of. It might not have been the busiest Bodega has ever been, but you’ll be hard pushed to find someone more passionate and sarcastically self-critical this year.