Early during a too-brief set, the eponymous Jacob Yates proffered Three Pieces of Glass, souvenirs from the roadside where his first love died. These metaphorical fragments of shattered windscreen have gouged themselves deep beneath the skin of his hand over the years he has clung onto them. Wondering whether the argument that preceded the fatal collision clouded her vision, he traces the heartbreak that ensued and exonerates himself by sharing with us part of the only human brain that retains this memory. We watch his visceral beauty as he howls at the moon, the sinews of his body flexing in cathartic bliss. The ghost of Uncle John (and Whitelock – Jacob’s earlier band) looks on in approval at the man his progeny has become.
At Stereo, an additional guitar was inserted into the mix, with technically perfect results, pulling the band back from the brink of self-flagellation after an under-rehearsed performance at the Captain’s Rest a couple of weeks ago (which, even then, refused to defeat them, offering charismatic intimacy in a basement as dark as Jacob’s thoughts). The other end of the emotional spectrum is to be found in the musical onomatopoeia of Lemonade, as bubbles effervesce from multiple strings to convey the childhood pleasure of fizzy drinking.
The banality of memory in the face of death is a recurring theme, but it refuses to tip over into self-indulgence. Quickly panning out into observations of the abject to which the underclass of Glasgow is subject, the characters of Mary Hell are culled from a Mary Shelley karaoke. As Guy Fawkes was cremated around the country, Mark pinpointed the moment at which irreversible experience is seared into being – the abusive boyfriend violating a pristine sister; the child deprived of its senses and branded with the ready weapons of domesticity.
It’s obvious why this brutal take on reality is unlikely to pass through the pearly gates of tourist-hungry official sanction. But one of the mysteries of the Glasgow music scene is that Jacob has not been carried shoulder-high around the city by his peers or spirited away to distant shores as a latter-day missionary. Perhaps he never wanted this and, while others have reached for the stars, he has been content to stay in his room, coming to terms with his personal demons.
Jacob Yates, this troubled soul salutes you; in your palm, three shards glisten like diamonds.
If you missed this, Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lockpickers play Stereo on 17 December.