Withered Hand, Rob St John, Will Cookson @ Trampoline, Saturday 13th November 2008

I guess I should know by now that no matter how good a line up you put together for a show, getting people along to said show is never as easy as you hope it will be.  Obviously, I know there was more I could have done to promote this show, but life took over and without Claire’s invaluable help things just didn’t get done as well as normal.  But I don’t like blaming people for anything, so I won’t blame myself for having alife outside Trampoline that is getting busier and busier.   I guess what is disappointing for me is that this was as good an end to 2008 musically as I could have hoped for with all 3 performers being of exceptional quality.  The other thing that was really great about the night was that though the crowd was smaller than I’d hoped, they were very attentive and should complete respect to all the performers.   It was lovely, especially during Will Cookson’s solo set that you could have heard a pin drop.  Whether this helped Will or made him more nervous, I’m not sure.  It was his first gig in over a year and having established himself on the London folk scene, gaining celebrity fans like Laura Marling and attracting the attention of Bella Union, I think the unfamiliar world of Edinburgh music was maybe a little daunting.  But it shouldn’t have been.  He has to be one of the best guitar players I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing live, and his delicate, Nick Drake-esque tunes were an absolute joy to sit and listen too.    I could certainly see why Bella Union would have been interested and I hope that it’s not the last we hear of Will in Edinburgh and that he gets out and plays more shows. 

Next up was Rob St. John.  His new EP is now out and there has been a growth in his music over the last year I think.  Now prefering to use electric guitar to acoustic, he has added a new dimension to his live performance.  Though stripped back on Saturday to just guitar, harmonium and double bass, I thought his show was simple and stuning.  The use of the electric guitar completely suits the music and every time I see him perform I think his vocal and overall performance has improved.    A really strong performance.

I don’t think there’s much I need to say about Withered Hand, or indeed anything more I can add to the fact that he’s just brilliant.  His songs never fail to make me smile and his whole demeanour on stage and in life in general is so appealing that it’s hard not to sit and just love every second of  his performance.  Like I’ve said before, when i first saw Dan I didn’t get it.  I didn’t enjoy his set and only through the constant pestering of Bart did I go and give him a second chance.  But I’m so glad I did.  He is without doubt one of Edinburgh’s finest song writers and his performance on Saturday just confirmed that for me.  The onstage banter between him and his band was also great, so relaxed and as if they are loving every second of playing together.  “George Michael wrote a Christmas song….. it’s called Religious Songs” comes the chat before the title track from the EP is delivered brilliantly.  And to be honest, if you missed this show then you missed a fantastic rendition of “New Dawn” and an even more fantastic version of set closer – a Charles Latham song – the name of which I don’t know but who Dan states “is a hero of mine….at least til he gets famous, and then I probably won’t like him anymore”.   If this performance tonight is anything to go by then Withered Hand should go from strength to strength in 2009 and if he gets famous there’s no way I’ll stop liking his music.  Please make sure you check him out.  Shame on you all who missed the show for terrible reasons – the weather is never an acceptable excuse! 

And so ends Trampoline for 2008.  It’s been a mixed year of highs and lows but I am hopeful that 2009 will bring a lot of great things for everyone involved in the Edinburgh music scene and hopefully the shows will go from strength to strength.  For everone who has supported me since the beginning, a massive heartfelt thank you.  Have a great Christmas and New Year and we’ll see you all on 17th January for some sunshine pop from Endor, Cancel the Astronauts and the ever fantastic Team Turnip.