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Book Group / Quarterbacks / Campfires In Winter – Nothing Ever Happens Here @ Summerhall, Edinburgh – Thursday 17th September 2015

Thursday night didn’t get off to the best possible start. If there was an exceptional load to cross the bridge in front of us, it did. If there were sets of traffic lights which could turn red, they did. If there was a wrong turn to be taken in the worst possible place, it was.

All of which meant that we missed all of Campfires in Winter bar a few chords of the penultimate tune and the entire last song. My impressions of Campfires therefore are limited but there’s no doubting that they sounded absolutely fucking massive (making me wish I’d taken my earplugs.)

But as well as being loud the final tune had a more subtle extended coda with keyboards and trumpets. On this limited evidence they maybe veer too close to ‘Mixed Drinks’ era Frabbits to allow me to really love them. But it would be wrong to jump to any conclusions based on such a short part of the set and I do wish we’d heard more.

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A Quarterback

Most definitely not loud was the Quarterbacks set which turned out to be more of a Quarterback set from main man Dean playing solo. The tunes were rooted firmly in New York and were by turns whimsical and charming at a step removed from the full band recordings I’d heard. I definitely need to investigate further.

The volume was back up for Book Group even if not quite at the levels of CiW. (Or maybe my ears were just stunned by then). After Graeme opened the set with a solo number, soundwise, it was all over the place on the first couple of full band songs, as illustrated by the fact that Kevin complained about his bass being too loud. Something’s not quite right if the bass player’s complaining about being too loud!

It did settle down after that but, being honest, it never quite made it all the way to perfect principally because Michael’s guitar was a little quiet in the mix. But I would take Thursday’s sound any day over the ‘don’t disturb the audience’ sound levels of a recent show and it certainly didn’t hurt the show’s energy levels.

As this was a proper headline show it was the longest set I’ve seen them play by some distance. Which not only allowed a fair smattering of old favourites and a big dollop of newer tunes but also a midset Violent Femmes cover, ‘Blisters In The Sun’ which I own and recognised, but couldn’t place either due to the size of my record collection or senility. (Or a combination of both!)

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Other than the killer double punch to close the set of ‘Here Is Too Near’ and ‘Victory Lap’ (there’s a balcony at Summerhall, so Graeme obviously couldn’t resist) most of the older songs were grouped at the start of the set. Which left the opportunity to concentrate on the newer stuff and compare these songs back to back later on.

The guitar pop tunes such as ‘Mayonnaise’ and ‘Kickstart’ sounded ever more like killers whilst I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the next single was the indie/dance anthem ‘Actress/Model’. ‘The Art of Underachieving’ may not have an obvious hook but still manages to generate a real sense of purpose.

All things considered it was a tremendous show and Book Group sounded like they’re in fine fettle for the coming months. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we finally get to hear that debut LP.

One more thing. It’s fair to say that until they’re selling out the Corn Exchange I’ll always think that there’s not enough folk going to see Book Group but, even being a tad more realistic, the turnout on Thursday was a bit of a disappointment. It *was* a school night and all but I’m a bit baffled as to why there’s not more folk going to see this band. I really do think that they’re my favourite Scottish band at the moment.

Mind you, maybe if they really want to “make it” they need to start recording stuff I hate …

Book Group played:

1 This Little House of Mine 2 Lowdown of a Loud Sound 3 Year of the Cat 4 Mayonnaise 5 A Rough Wooing 6 Seedlings 7 Kickstart 8 Season of Screams 9 Late Show 10 Blister In The Sun 11 Actress/Model 12 The Art of Underachieving 13 Here Is Too Near 14 Victory Lap

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Book Group have dates in the following towns/cities in November, venues to be announced presumably:

Newcastle 12th
Doncaster 13th
London 14th
Edinburgh 19th
Inverness 20th
Glasgow 21st
Aberdeeen 4th December

although Graeme also mentioned a Perth date after the show.

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