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Spare Snare / Emma Pollock – D.C.A., Dundee – 5th September 2015

As something of a Johnny Come Lately to Dundee’s Spare Snare I’ve had few opportunities to see them in a live setting. So the run of shows to celebrate the 20th anniversary of debut LP ‘Live At Home’ was right at the top of my ‘must see’ autumn gigs.

Saturday night’s hometown show took place in a sold-out D.C.A. to the extent that dozens were turned away at the door. Fortunately the show more than lived up to such high expectations.

Whereas last time I saw the Snare, I was surprised to know just about all their set, Saturday’s setlist was drawn from throughout their career and showed up the gaps in my knowledge. Drawing most heavily from ‘Live At Home’ (naturally) but also ‘Animals and Me’ the band also included their last two singles ‘I Am God’ and the Billardo cover. There was even space for an old song, ‘James Dean Poster’, which apparently had never been played live before.

It was a high energy performance, particularly from Jan, who frequently seemed on the point of bouncing into the audience.

Whilst there was a little tinkering with the sound on the opening ‘As A Matter of Fact’ it sounded great thereafter and they were properly up and running with blinding versions of ‘Stop Complaining’ and mission statement ‘We Are The Snare’.

Pretty much the only minor hitch was when Adam started the sequencer for ‘Spot The Difference’ several songs too early.

Guest musicians were scattered throughout the set with Jan’s dad, Dave, joining the band early on whilst Mike Kane added guitar noise to an epic ‘Spot The Difference’ to close the main set.

The band returned for one encore with Ross Matheson of STOOR contributing additional guitar to the closing ‘Surrender’.

As stated above Snare live shows have been rare events in recent years but if the band genuinely thought that they might only sell 30 tickets then Saturday undoubtedly demonstrated that there remains a healthy appetite for live Snare – a sentiment that this writer heartily endorses.

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Spare Snare played

1. As A Matter of Fact  2. Stop Complaining  3. We Are The Snare  4. I’ll Get By  5. If I Had A Hi-Fi  6. Skateboard Punk Rocker  7. Super Slinky  8. Wired for Sound  9. James Dean Poster  10. I Am God  11. Smile It’s Sugar  12. No Quise Angustiarte  13. Bugs  14. Spot The Difference

Encore

15. Surrender

Earlier Emma Pollock had somehow managed to rejig the U.S. Open schedule to allow her to open the show.

Her set was a mixture of old and tunes and wasn’t quite the acoustic set that had been billed in advance. Instead Emma was joined on stage by Graeme Smillie who contributed both piano and bass to the set with the added heft of Jonny-Scott-in-a-box drums on a couple of tunes as well.

Straight off, the hard edged electric guitar on the opening ‘Acid Test’ gave the lie to the acoustic tag with ‘Confessions’ given a similar treatment, somewhat removed from the more electronic version on the album. Otherwise Graeme’s piano carried the lead on songs such as the fragile and beautifully sung ‘House On The Hill’ as well as new tunes such as ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’.

The overall impression of the new material (several examples of which Emma also played here) is that her third solo LP, due out in January, should be a worthy successor to ‘The Law of Large Numbers’.

But the set’s highlight (and the song stuck on the internal jukebox ever since) came from her debut album – the gentle run through of ‘Paper and Glue’ was magnificent.

All in all, Saturday’s performance was a timely reminder of what one of Scotland’s finest songwriters is capable of.

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Emma played:

1. Acid Test  2. Clemency  3. Confessions  4. Red Orange Green  5. Intermission  6. House on the Hill  7. Don’t Make Me Wait  8. Paper & Glue  9. “Looking Glass”

I’ve taken so long to get this done that the Snare tour is almost complete with dates in Glasgow and Liverpool past. But they will be performing twice in London in the next 48 hours – at Servant Jazz Quarters on Thursday (10th) at 8 p.m. and on Friday (11th) at Rough Trade West at 6.00 p.m.

Spare Snare sing Billardo (on red 7″ vinyl) is available from the band’s Bandcamp or at the above mentioned shows.

Emma meanwhile has dates lined up as follows:

  • Sep 18 Paisley: Bring It All Home
  • Oct 09 Bognor Regis: Rockaway Beach Festival
  • Nov 14 Manchester: Academy

Previously on MPT:

Spare Snare interview (March 2013)

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