I had written a massive paragraph at the beginning of this post having a good old rant about this and that. I read it back. It is how I feel. However, I’m sick fed up moaning about the same thing at the end of every year. As a wise man once told me; focus on the people who do care because they are the ones that matter most. How true that is and it resonates with me greatly after Saturday.
Regardless of turn out, I can safely say that musically Saturday’s show was special. Probably the best show I’ve ever run. Every single act was amazing. But I have to reserve special praise for Conquering Animal Sound and The Scottish Enlightenment. Conquering Animal Sound are quite simply a cut above most artists out there at the moment. They are creative, imaginative, unbelievably talented and they captured everyone’s attention from the word go. The whole set was simply stunning to watch. And I think ultimately that is what takes them to a level above their peers. The creativity involved and the quality of song writing is incredibly high but it’s watching them create the songs on stage which adds an extra dimension to their live show. Jamie Scott is just a joy to watch creating his art. He seems to be doing a million things at once. Lost amongst a sea of wires, pedals and toys he stalked from guitar to keyboard, to sampler, to loop pedal building the songs as he goes. Anneke Kampman is the perfect front woman. Blessed with a stunning voice and completely captivating to watch she also busied herself with vocal loops, pedals, harp and samplers. At times I was amazed that the pair of them were not getting in each others way. Ultimately, what they created on Saturday was the best live performance of the year that I’ve seen, bar perhaps Andrew Bird at Oran Mor. It was simply stunning. Such was the brilliance of the performance that when Jamie announced before the last song that they had tapes for free over on the merch stall people didn’t wait until the end of the set to rush and grab one. The whole audience just rushed across and cleaned them out. If that’s not a sign of how good a band has been then I don’t know what is. Definitely my tips for 2010. A wonderful band with a wonderful future.
The Scottish Enlightenment (main picture) do not sound anything like they do on their myspace page! FACT. What is on that page has a more punky, early Idlewild feel to it. What they produced live on Saturday could not be further from this sound if they tried. Their set was also stunning. Evoking thoughts of a Scottish cross between Low and the National, this band are simply brilliant. Like I said, I’d been trying to get them to Trampoline for a number of years but I think they were on a sabbatical from music or something like that. Perhaps they were reinventing themselves? Whatever they were doing, they are sounding absolutely brilliant now. I said to David on Saturday night, and I meant no offence by it whatsoever, that the songs they played live were so much better than what is on their myspace page. This makes things difficult, because I want you to hear these guys but I want you to also know that their myspace page is not a true reflection of their sound, or their brilliance. If you can you must catch these guys live in 2010. I do love it when you watch a band for the first time and they blow you away with their performance. These guys did this to me on Saturday night. And I love their attitude as well. They’re making music for all the right reasons, and it shows. Bring on their album in the early part of 2010 I say.
The rest of the day was also special. The Last Battle were first up and produced a delightful set to open the day of music. I’ve become internet friends with Scott and I am a big fan of his songs. He’s a really great songwriter producing moments of sheer beauty in songs when you least expect it. I don’t know the name of the song, but when he sings the words “ignore me then” on repeat the goose bumps never fail to appear. The drums were missing from the set, but I do think this performance was stronger than when they played in November. Not saying that it’s because of the lack of drums! Just that this seemed like a more assured and confident set. A wonderful band and definite ones to watch in 2010.
Jonnie Common. I don’t have the words to explain what an amazing performer this man is. From the word go his banter has the crowd in stitches. And the music had them totally hooked as well. It’s good time beats. It always has been with Jonnie, from his Down The Tiny Steps days until now, the flavour is upbeat and the lyrics are always humorous and interesting. I miss the flowery set up that often accompanied DTTS sets, though I think the lack of flair may have had more to do with the amount of time he had to set up than anything else. He’s always great value. Full of energy, full of chat and full of brilliant tunes. The live drums definitely added something extra to the performance this time. A memorable performance for all the right reasons.
Debutant was sublime as ever. Not much more I can say about Phil which I haven’t already said! It’s sad for me to think that Phil is intending on cutting back on live shows. I never tire of watching him play his songs. The way he builds his songs is fascinating to watch and I love the sounds he creates. I find myself drifting away with the dreamy atmospheres and soundscapes that he generates. It was the perfect foil to Jonnie’s upbeat electronic madness.
Esperi is another who is a joy to watch. Chris has so many toys and instruments on stage with him at any given time. He creates songs from nothing using his loop pedal, but he is also a seriously gifted guitar player and his quiet folk songs continued where Debutant left off. A lovely quiet mood is created and his set closer was brilliant as ever. Stand out track was a new one called ‘Lone Wolf’ for sure. Somehow he manages to turn a 40 minute set allocation into a 50 minute performance, but then Chris is not one for keeping time. Not that it matters, cause it’s a great 50 minutes of music which pass by in an instant.
Lyons for me are the surprise of the day. I loved their stuff when I heard it on myspace and was keen to get them along to play but live they just blow me away with their energy, attitude and songs. There’s no messing about. They are a 2-piece but sound nothing like other 2 pieces or what you might expect of this set up. There’s no White Stripes or Black Keys imitating going on here. The music is very much their own. The drums were incredible. The intensity fantastic. The set blistering. Over all too soon. There was a ferocity to their music, which you wouldn’t expect to see from the 2 quiet, friendly lads who turn up to play. A total winner. Brilliant harmonies. Brilliant band. Do keep an eye out for them.
And finally headliners Mitchell Museum. I think it’s fair to say that they are a little bit nuts! What a fun way to finish the day. They just blasted their way through a set of synth driven power pop tunes. Manic chat between, as entertaining as Jonnie Common earlier in the day. A highlight of the day must be when the band as a whole dropped their instruments picked up their drummer and dumped him at the front of the stage, where he proceeded to play silent night on acoustic guitar. It’s a fantastic moment. It reminded me of the Green Day video for ‘Basket Case’ where the loonies get wheeled out to play a song. I was getting really tired at this point of the day so that moment of light relief at the end of a stressful day was most welcome. Their set was a brilliant energetic way to finish what was a wonderful day of music.
All the while the bands are playing the wonderful pictures of We Sink Ships and Heidi Kuisma are displayed on the screen behind. A wonderful backdfrop to a wonderful day of music.
And a massive thanks to Sean and Halina of Glasgow Podcart for coming along, recording the show and interviewing the bands. It added a lovely little extra flavour to proceeding and I hope it’s something they’ll come back and do again in the future. Especially if we have another all day event this time next year, which is a distinct possibility.