Nerves are high before the Black Sea Sailors take to the stage at the Jazz Bar. Understandably so – this is only their second live outing.
Formed in 2009, Black Sea Sailors sail close to semi-acoustic straits, rather than the electric reefs frequented by Night Noise Team (the band which Sailors Sean and Fabien are also members of).
Crewed by a loose collective of friends, tonight Black Sea Sailors are five in number, with Sean taking the vocal helm whilst Fabien, Keith, Thomas and Dave man the other instruments.
“I think we got away with it lads,” says Sean after one number, a self-effacing nod to the fact the Sailors are still finding their sea legs.
However, the group’s spiky and melodic brand of geek rock is certainly strong enough to see them through. As Thomas unfurls his seven-string and Fabien & Keith’s bass & drums stoke more rhythm into the engine room, Sean and Dave pilot a course previously charted by the likes of British Sea Power, The Editors and – ancient mariners of old – Kitchens of Distinction and Joy Division.
Lyrically, the numbers are strong, and Sean’s songwriting skills are well demonstrated. Songs such as Concrete and Rise And Fall are complex and layered, with vocal harmonies and guitars creating an impressive crescendo of sound.
There’s humour amongst the angst as well, with songs such as Living In Sin in Livingston and its “woke up this morning in Morningside” refrain providing local reference and colour.
By the end of their short set, the Sailors are visibly happy and relieved to be on dry land once again. However, with a little more confidence in their abilities, their mature and intelligent indie rock could see them forging their own distinctive path through Edinburgh’s musical ocean.
By which time, you’ll be pleased to hear, we’ll have run out of nautical metaphors.