MUSIC | Reviews
E L L W D O O G M T
HORROR SYNTH-POP UMBERTO The Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh, Thu 1 May ●●●●●
LA resident Umberto played a live soundtrack to 80s slasher, Pieces, at the Arches for the 2012 Glasgow Film Festival. He returned last year to play a lecture theatre at Summerhall, and is back – this time in a dingy, wee 100-capacity basement off the High Street. It’s a coup for tonight’s organisers, monthly cult film group the Edinburgh Zombie Club. A brief intro of vintage horror organ and crystalline
giallo-style melodies gives way to a highly danceable, beat-driven set that flies in the face of Umberto's more broody recorded output. There’s still a firm horror genre foundation, but the beats tonight are more akin to the house, techno and disco you might hear out of a 1980s New York basement at a Hallowe’en-themed club night. It’s thoroughly excellent music – Thriller-esque in places – and would have resulted in a proper rave-up in a dancier venue. The set culminates in an unexpected, effervescent electro-pop number. It’s a fist-in-the-air finisher, and shows that even gothic synth sorcerors like Umberto have a lighter side. (Niki Boyle) ■ See list.co.uk for a longer version of this review.
INTIMATE ACOUSTIC SHOW BIFFY CLYRO King Tut’s, Glasgow, Tue 29 Apr ●●●●●
It’s surely been a while since Biffy Clyro’s beardwearer-in-chief Simon Neil had to operate his own smoke machine, but then ‘you don’t get to headline T in the Park unless you’ve got one,’ as he told us. Here to mark the return of commercial radio station XFM to Glasgow, the trio took to the laidback intimacy of the arrangement – an acoustic show in a venue which is tiny by their usual standards – despite Neil’s admission that they’d been a bit nervous about the whole thing.
The audience responded as might have been expected, ‘singing’ along to smiles from the band with the missing power-chords of ‘Black Chandelier’, listening intently to new track ‘Here Come the Naturals’ (somewhat gloomy in an acoustic context) and letting out audible swooning sighs when the familiar vocals of ‘Machines’ and ‘Many of Horror’ kicked in late on. To be honest, the acoustic Biffy experience spun on a bit too long, with a few songs sounding somewhat neutered in the absence of cataclysmic guitars being battered by bare-chested Ayrshire barbarians, but the change of pace was pleasing for a time. (Paul Little)
K C A L S S A M O H T
N O S T R E B O R E T T E L L O C
ALT FOLK ADAM HOLMES & THE EMBERS Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Mon 5 May ●●●●● EXPERIMENTAL / ELECTRONIC FUNDRAISER MUSCLETUSK, WITH FRIENDS Bongo Club, Edinburgh, Sat 3 May ●●●●●
Freshly longlisted for this year’s Scottish Album of the Year award for his thoughtful debut album Heirs and Graces, Adam Holmes doesn’t seem like the sort of character who will do much shouting about his success. ‘D’youse feel like singing?’ he enquires gruffly at one point, in a gravelly speaking voice which belies the fact he’s only 23. ‘Well please don’t, because it’ll put me off.’ He’s joking, but it isn’t too much of a stretch to picture him holding court in an old-timers’ folk club where such statements are viewed as scintillating stagecraft.
Speaking of that voice, though, it really is the axis on which this gig turns, a distinctive and worldly instrument which gets under your skin the more you hear of it. Its tone has a kind of lullaby caress, but there’s also a world-weariness which adds character and weight as Holmes guides us through the pastoral rootsiness of ‘Where the River Meets the Hill’. Ending on a more rousing, shanty-like drinking song which demands ‘won’t you come out drinking with me?’, we’re left with the echo of an artist whose work endures in the mind . That nomination’s well-deserved. (David Pollock)
86 THE LIST 15 May–12 Jun 2014
It may not have been Live Aid, but by gathering (some of) the clans from Edinburgh’s off-piste but ever-fecund experimental / noise diaspora to play this fundraiser for Edinburgh Central Food Bank, promoters Braw Gigs and the Bongo Club took a principled stance against one of the most sadly necessary by-products of the Con-Dem alliance and their banker friends’ ongoing advocacy of austerity.
Warsaw emigré WIDT (Antonina Nowacka)
opened proceedings with a low-key display of synthesised looped chorales put through a spectral dub blender. FUA followed this with a sax and drum-propelled assault that drove the guitar, electronic and vocal extrapolations beneath, while the increasing volume of the criss-crossing slabs of sound from Fraser Burnett, aka Fordell Research Unit, was pure techno for airports. Edinburgh’s Muscletusk, went full throttle from
the off with splashes and crashes of distorted twin guitars, relentlessly hardcore drums and electronic pokes that cast up underlying bass-throbs from the ether – in a night that, for all its thunder, made the most humane of gestures. (Neil Cooper)
CITY CENTRE FESTIVAL STAG & DAGGER Various venues, Glasgow, Sun 4 May ●●●●●
You could tell simply from the vast quantity of hire tour vans clogging up Sauchiehall Street on a Bank Holiday weekend Sunday afternoon that something was afoot on Glasgow’s music half-mile. While the biggest Stag & Dagger to date didn’t quite peak, as no one band emerged as a zeitgeist- capturing must-see, this was a grand celebration of Glasgow’s booming music infrastructure if nothing else, with the new Art School joining Broadcast, Nice’n’Sleazy, the CCA and the O2 ABC in a tight constellation of good-to-excellent music venues so suited in combination to one- ticket all-dayers such as this, you wonder why there aren’t more.
Among a strong showing of local talent, Glasgow dreamy-indie girl duo Honeyblood (above) stood out most, first with a daytime acoustic set by singer Stina Tweeddale, then later with a full-band taster of their promising-sounding forthcoming debut album at Broadcast. Among visitors from further afield, Brooklyners the Hold Steady pulled in probably the biggest crowd of the day, for a breathless hour of fist-pumping, wryly funny party rock. A short nip across to the CCA, and the brilliant Ezra Furman shone even brighter. Backed by a piano- bashing, guitar-screeching, sax-honking mob of musicians in the Boyfriends, the mildly-unhinged Chicagoan brought his excellent solo album Day of the Dog’s vintage rock’n’roll-isms to bear with energy and heart.
Headlining Stag & Dagger's biggest
venue would have been a stretch for Albert Hammond Jnr at any rate, with a solitary EP last year representing the Strokes guitarist’s only solo release since 2008. But scheduled on the ABC bill between two of the most talked-about new bands at the festival – pulverising rock duo Royal Blood, and we’ll come to the other one in a bit – you almost felt a little bit sorry for Hammond. He had neither the charm nor material to overcome the challenge of a sparse crowd and dwindling atmosphere. By stark contrast, London garage rock
imps the Fat White Family made up for what they lacked in originality with sheer menacing magnetism, as shirtless, greased- up eel of a frontman Lias Saoudi spat songs about dodgy sex, champagne holocausts and bombing Disneyland into an ever-growing moshpit of, by now, very well-oiled punters. (Bruce White)