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Neil Pennycook / Book Group /Last Battle – Sick Kids Friends’ Foundation benefit – The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh – 26th January 2013

Great wee show at the Wee Red Bar last night featuring  a couple of acoustic slots and the not at all acoustic Book Group.

First up were a two piece Last Battle with Scott joined by new member Caroline on vocals and occasional guitar. In amongst a slew of new songs there was a lovely version of ‘Ruins’. The acoustic set-up very much emphasised the folky nature of the songs but it was still an enjoyable taster for the second LP due later in the year.

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Next up was the first appearance for the former Bad Books under the new Book Group name. All changes seemed cosmetic – Graeme swapping narrow for much broader stripes on his t-shirt and Scott wearing contacts rather than glasses.

Beyond that, the tried and tested (if slightly reshuffled) set was as reliably brilliant as ever. A couple of new tunes are promised for next time but I’ve really no idea what they’ll drop to play them. Whatever is dropped, will be missed.

Book Group played:

1. BOP  2. Summer of Lunches  3. Seedlings  4. Everyone’s Going To Be OK (Except for You)  5. A Rough Wooing  6. Year of the Cat  7. Victory Lap

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The final act was Neil Pennycook from Meursault with a set of songs, which at times felt like a greatest hits selection Most of the tunes have featured live in full band sets recently (including his Melanie cover!) but there were also a couple of newer tunes.

Half the set was delivered with the piano for accompaniment, the other half split between acoustic guitar and banjo. It was an absolutely compelling performance and the different tone that a solo performance brought simply highlighted  the strength of the material.

Best of the lot was a stunning delivery of ‘New Boy’ on piano. With the band it’s a rousing pop tune, but solo it transformed into a heart-breaking lament.  The likes of ‘Nothing Broke’, ‘William Henry Miller’ and encore ‘A Small Stretch of Land’ were also superb.

A pity a few at the back felt the need to talk their way through part of the set (although at least they were at the back) but I guess that that’s the nature of these sort of events.

Photos from the show here.

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