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eagleowl / Rory Sutherland – ‘this silent year’ LP Launch – The Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh – 10th May 2013

In the end it came down a choice between staying home and writing about the new eagleowl LP or going to the LP launch in Edinburgh. And common sense so nearly prevailed. Even on Thursday evening I was inclined to stay at home with the start of a cold and the inevitable end-of-week exhaustion beckoning.

Yet with the cold firmly in check thanks to the pharmaceuticals and feeling far perkier than I had any right to, I couldn’t resist the chance to grab one of the last tickets for the eagleowl LP launch at the Pleasance Theatre.

As a family we’ve been to several shows at the Pleasance before but none in the actual theatre. I’d imagined that it would be something like the room we’d seen the Horrible Histories show in a couple of years back, which had temporary seating and would on the face of it been easily able to accommodate a show.

But, no, the main room is very much an old style theatre with 19th century grandeur, albeit one that has probably seen better days. (I’m fairly certain that the damp smell was the building and not me.) The seats, however, were very much built to 19th century specifications, so it was a tight squeeze if anyone was sitting next to you.

But the overall impression was that the Pleasance Theatre is a charming place to see bands.

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The support was Broken Records’ Rory Sutherland who played an instrumental set comprising loops of piano and violin. The tunes were atmospheric and sounded like they would lend themselves well to some bleak natural history soundtrack. It was the perfect precursor to eagleowl themselves.

Given that this was an album launch, ‘this silent year’ was aired in its entirety albeit with an interlude between sides one and two of a couple of the older “hits”.

The regular six piece was augmented on several occasions throughout the set. Mr Sutherland returned to the stage not just for the opening ‘forgetting’ but also for ‘too late in the day’ which also featured an added guitarist allowing Rob St John to concentrate on making electronic noise for the whole song.

Inevitably, ‘too late …’ was the show stopper, the extra musicians taking the live rendition to a new level. But its epic nature actually only heightened the impact of set closer ‘laughter’ which followed immediately thereafter, with Clarissa’s vocal sounding even more poignant and fragile coming on the back of the noisefest.

But to focus on the rockiest, noisiest song would be wrong because that’s not what makes eagleowl so special. In some ways, because they do things so slowly for much of the time, they shouldn’t appeal to me as much as they do. Yet, both on record and live, they are gorgeous, emotional and all encompassing.

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That was certainly the case last night with the music being brought to gentle crescendos throughout the set. It’s pretty much impossible to pick out highlights but in addition to the new material hearing older songs like ‘into the fold’ and ‘sleep the winter’ again was pretty special.

In fact, ‘special’ pretty much sums up the whole evening. I’ve said it before but eagleowl are one of Scotland’s under-heralded treasures.

‘This Silent Year’ is released on Fence Records on Monday (13th May).

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