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Book Group / digitalanalogue – Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh – Friday 5th June 2015

After a year of shows often burdened with one form of technical difficulty or another Friday night’s Book Group show at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh was a return to blistering form.

Burning right from the opening ‘Lowdown of a Loud Sound’ they ripped through a 10 songs set of old tunes and new.

If you’ve followed any of the Book Group stuff on here, you’ll know how wonderful I think the old stuff is. And that was absolutely true of Friday night because these songs sounded as good as ever. ‘Lowdown’, ‘Year of the Cat’ and a surprise outing for ‘Seedlings’, were all a potent reminder of why BG are one of my absolute favourite bands at the moment. Oh and for some reason for the first time ‘A Rough Wooing’ reminded me of R.E.M. (or at least the first verse did!)

Unusually ‘Victory Lap’ was not played as the last song and it did feel slightly restricted in its position of being the penultimate tune. But equally it’s easy to see why they’d want to finish with a searing run through of ‘Here Is Too Near’. It’s a problem a lot of bands would kill for and perhaps the solution is to reserve ‘Victory Lap’ for the encore …

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Despite the set being longer than Dundee there were actually fewer new tunes on display and perhaps wisely they were spread throughout the set instead of being presented as a block at the start.

Crucially on this evidence the new songs sounded every bit as vital as the old tunes and the weedy sound which blunted their impact at Duke’s was nothing but a receding memory.

The danceable new-wave pop of the newly re-christened ‘Actress/Model’ is certain to become a live highlight on this evidence whilst all the other new songs had a zip lacking on their previous outing.

I wouldn’t say that I’d become blasé about seeing Book Group live but being honest it’s been a wee while since I’ve seen them be quite as amazing as they were on Friday – roll on the next show!

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Support came from digitalanalogue and I confess that it wasn’t quite what I expected either. With the album having being described variously as “drones” and “ambient” it was a pleasant surprise to find that the songs were a little more direct than I’d expected.

Ranging between Ian Turnbull performing on his own and being joined by 2 cohorts (including Neil Supermoon) there was some fun to be had from watching the three of them shuffle between the gear on the restricted stage. That and hearing the loudest squeaking stool at various points during the set.

More importantly musically there was a bit of a piano led Mogwai vibe at times and overall atmospheric is a fair description. But it certainly wasn’t as nebulous as I thought it might be with all the songs retaining a degree of forward momentum. I rather liked it.

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Book Group played:

1. Lowdown of a Loud Sound  2. Year of the Cat  3. Mayonnaise  4. The Art of Underachieving  5. A Rough Wooing  6. Season of Screams  7. Seedlings  8. Actress/Model (a.k.a. Opening Night?)  9. Victory Lap  10. Here Is Too Near

 

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