For fans of alternative guitar-based music, this gig at Henry’s Cellar Bar from Bainbridge Music seemed like Christmas come early.
First up were Royal Edinburgh Music, a five-piece outfit led by the slightly unhinged (in a good way) Jo. Their sound was of the swooping swirling kind, providing a cinematic Cocteau Twins style mood to accompany Jo’s eccentric onstage persona: one part Kate Bush, poured over a generous serving of Bjork, shaken and stirred.
The band have a few rough edges which they’d do well to spend time smoothing: as with a little more love and attention, Royal Edinburgh Music could have a lot to offer in the leftfield art-rock department.
Plugging in next were instrumental post-metallists half a dead bird. Laden with guitars, effect pedals and ebows, this amped-up quartet proceeded to create music of often epic proportions.
A typical half a dead bird number starts with a gently-strummed refrain, upon which piles and piles of guitar and drums are layered until the whole thing starts descending towards the earth’s core under the weight of its own intricately-wrought soundscape.
The song structures are complex but effective, with riffs and refrains echoing off each other throughout each number’s length. And when they build up to a full-strength crescendo, their onstage energy matches the ferocity of their music and they become exciting to watch as to listen to.
A trip through east from Glasgow’s The Red Show is always welcomed by local fans of their spiky Pixies-like sound, and tonight they deliver a cracking set of alternative angular rock to an appreciative crowd.
Recently pared down to a two-piece, The Red Show call on the services of guitar and bass-wielding cohorts during their set, bolstering their live sound beyond that which drums and guitar alone can achieve. That said, as a duo they are just as capable of delivering jaggedly effective slices of tightly-wrought music, and their set has a variety on display few bands can match.
Well worth catching the next time they make another road trip along the M8.
Headliners Hagana unveil their new lineup tonight with recent addition Gary on bass. His slightly nervous appearance is unjustified, as within seconds his skill with the four-string is contributing excellently to the sound of what is probably Edinburgh’s best power-pop trio.
Hagana‘s songs are driving alternative rock classics with US slacker and surf-tinged tones. Frontman Leo sweats in his sweater as drummer Dave keeps the engines revved up with tight percussion and backing vocals.
The band play the kind of music that makes you want to throw away any stuffy Edinburgh gig-going inhibitions and dance: and dance their fans do, ending up onstage during Hagana‘s final number and ably demonstrating that this is a band to give a great big sweaty bear hug to and cherish as one of the city’s finest. And the fact they sound better than ever with the addition of their new bassist is a bonus.
With four very different bands each bringing different gifts to a great-value and enjoyable night, this gig maybe didn’t show the true spirit of Christmas, but was certainly full of the spirit of exciting and varied alternative music in Edinburgh.