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Star Wheel Press

Aberfeldy Festival – Day 1 with Star Wheel Press, Randolph’s Leap, Conquering Animal Sound, The Last Battle and Book Group – Aberfeldy Town Hall, Friday 1st November 2013

Yesterday’s evening trip to Aberfeldy Festival turned out to be something of an adventure. Firstly it necessitated not just an early departure from work and an early tea but also a dash through not entirely favourable conditions to a town that I’d never visited before.

However our planning seemed to have paid off with time to spare as we arrived in time to queue outside the unopened doors just after 6. Despite that we only just made it into the hall in time to see Book Group simply because we had to negotiate Checkpoint Charlie (a.k.a. the Door) to get our wrist bands for the evening. Somehow the masses of volunteers at the door managed to make what should have been a simple process take much took longer than it needed to. So by the time we actually gained entry the BGs were already on stage and getting ready to start. That’s called arriving in the nick of time!

New tune ‘Best Regards’ has been joined by another new one ‘Get Up and Go Go Go’, both of which shift the balance of the set in a heavier direction. With both sides of the (presumably) wonderful new single getting an airing (‘Lowdown …’ is indisputably their latest classic) there was only room for a couple of tracks from the E.P. and live favourite ‘A Rough Wooing’.

Yet despite the occasional technical glitch and the fact that Germ, sorry Graeme, was suffering from not just a chest infection but conjunctivitis, they still delivered. Good job, chaps.

Book Group played:

1. Seedlings  2. Best Regards  3. Get Up and Go Go Go  4. A Rough Wooing  5. Year of the Cat  6. The Lowdown of a LOUD Sound  7. Victory Lap

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Bookies!

Next up were the Last Battle and the first chance for us to see the five piece mark II live set-up. Whilst Scott Longmuir’s songwriting doesn’t seem to have departed much from its folky roots, this version of the band is a far more beefed up proposition, with much of the muscle derived from Scott’s electric guitar. They were very enjoyable and even managed to cover ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ as a tribute to the departed Lou Reed. No old tunes though, so no ‘Ruins’. 😦

Next up were Conquering Animal Sound. Whilst I have debut LP ‘Kammerspiel’, I confess that I haven’t listened to it much. I was pleasantly surprised therefore to find that I enjoyed most of my first live encounter with the band, even if a couple of tunes drifted past without making much of an impression. But overall it was definitely a thumbs up

Next up were Randolph’s Leap and they delivered quite probably the most boisterous live set I’ve seen from them yet. The down side of that was that there was no ‘Weatherman’ but we did get ‘Undergod’ for the first time in ages and there was also one tune that I don’t think I’d heard before. The Leap are surely the most fun that 8 pairs of legs can deliver in half an hour and they came very close to getting an encore.

The Leap played:

1. News  2. Hermit  3. Counting Sheep  4. Wack  5. Goodbye  6. Nature  7. Real Anymore  8. I Can’t Dance To This Music Anymore  9. Light of the Moon  10. Undergod  11. Crisps

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Randolph’s Leap

Finally to the headliners Star Wheel Press who were the only band that I hadn’t heard before. With a great singer and a great band, I did enjoy their brand of Americana. Things were enlivened too with some quirky touches, the gramophone to introduce the set and the, ahem, live printing on stage. Suppose the Press in the name gives a hint.

If I had one quibble with the set it was that the songs were very much mid-paced throughout. In fact, when they changed the tempo they actually slowed things down more often than they speeded them up – although we did miss the encore as we headed away slightly early for the long, foggy journey home.

Overall though it was a great evening out and we did regret not being able to have stayed for a couple of nights at least, particularly given how strong the Saturday line-up also was. The Town Hall was an ideal venue for a show of this type, not too big, with good sightlines and the bands all sounded great.

Actually there was one complaint – the audience wasn’t the most polite I’d come across. A fair chunk of the audience seemed to become restless from very early on in the Conquering Animal Sound set with a consequent increase in crowd chatter whilst, inexplicably, there was more of the same during the Leap’s performance. Not ideal.

But, yeah, really it was only a minor blip on a great experience and we’d certainly consider a longer stay next year.

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