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Birdhead / Hagana – ‘Pleasure Centre’ LP Launch – Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh – 9th June 2013

So at long last I managed to catch up with Birdhead live again at Sunday night’s launch for their excellent debut LP ‘Pleasure Centre’. It proved to be the perfect place to reacquaint myself with the ‘Heid live experience, even if it was very much an LP launch a la mode (e.g. the records hadn’t actually escaped from the pressing plant in time for the show).

There’s a visceral edge to the Birdhead live sound that hasn’t, yet, quite translated to record. Perhaps it’s just down to the Sneaky’s sound but the whole thing sounds a little unruly and Stephen’s guitar, so central to the records, is less dominant live. But Dave’s drumming really comes to the fore, undoubtedly the pounding heart at the centre of the Birdhead maelstrom. The show certainly threw a slightly different light on the LP material but in a good way – and I’ve listened to nothing else since.

Song-wise there was a surprising amount of new material for an LP launch with the balance was 60/40 in favour of the new record. Within thge main set most of the first side of the album got played, as well as ‘Inertia’ from the second, although (unless I’m much mistaken) the show was opened by a tease of the intro from ‘Trojan’ before heading instead into ‘Tourist’.

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The new material ranged from the rocky ‘Tesseract’ to an untitled instrumental which sounded like a perkier cousin of ‘Time Lag Accumulator’.

The end to the main set was rather sheepish with Dave not even bothering to get off his drum seat. Whilst Stephen did manage to escape from the stage it didn’t take too much persuasion for him to return for a searing ‘Seamus Notdog’. It was the perfect way to round things off in time for the Sneaky’s curfew.

I’m a bit puzzled by the lack of attention that the album seems to be getting. Too often for me electro-rock is disappointing, just stadium rock with bleeps, but Birdhead have managed to carve out their own thrilling identity by incorporating the best elements of both rock and electronic music. If I may be so bold, you need to check these guys out.

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The show had been opened by hard rocking power trio Hagana. I must confess that a couple of minutes into their set, I was pretty much expecting them to be the sort of rock band that I can watch for half an hour or so without any great desire to explore their records.

That judgement proved to be premature. Whilst Hagana are heavier than a lot of stuff I listen to, there were some great songs in there too. I didn’t catch its title but the fifth song blended melody and riffs in the way that Bob Mould occasionally does and was my favourite of their tunes. Some of the other up tempo stuff worked nearly as well but the “slowest” tune of the night (all things are relative) ‘Ryan Seaquest’ was pretty bloody good too. So all in all a good way to start the show.

‘Pleasure Centre’ is available on Gamma Proforma Records – hopefully from a record store near you, very, very soon.

More photos from the show here.

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