Kid Canaveral’s Xmas Baubles XI – featuring Kid Canaveral, Bossy Love, De Rosa, Prehistoric Friends, Kathryn Joseph, ULTRAS and the Pictish Trail
The sixth edition of Kid Canaveral’s Xmas Baubles was something of a return to its roots as the event moved from Portobello Town Hall to a smaller venue, in this case Pilrig St Paul’s Hall. All of which helped the event capture much more of the atmosphere of a Homegame festival.
That feeling was only reinforced by the sight of Father Pixctmas (a.k.a. the Pictish Trail) playing an acoustic set in the café and Kathryn Joseph playing her set from the floor of the main hall rather than the stage.
Being honest there were fewer acts on the bill that we wanted to see than normal. But that of course potentially meant new discoveries to be had.
Starting with the familiar this was actually the first time we’d seen the hosts Kid Canaveral perform this year. If the promised new songs from their third long player were undoubtedly a big attraction, when you’ve stalked a band for several years there’s no doubt that a break is a good way of gaining a fresh perspective. So it was nice to be reminded of how good the older songs are.
‘Low Winter Sun’, ‘Couldn’t Dance’ and ‘Good Morning’ were all highlights but the finale of ‘Skeletons’ and ‘A Compromise’ was tough to beat.
The new tunes suggested a new, more downbeat, electronic direction for the new record with the aforementioned ‘Skeletons’ unquestionably their closest relation in the back catalogue. And there was the thoroughly entertaining sight of David trying to get the audience to sing the harmonies to a solo version of ‘Her Hair Hangs Down’ – not entirely successfully, musically at least!
All of which left the strong feeling that we’d missed seeing the Canaverals over the last 12 months quite a lot. Hopefully 2016 will offer more opportunities to see them play.
Kid Canaveral played:
1 Low Winter Sun 2 Who Would Want To Be Loved? 3 Couldn’t Dance 4 Without A Backing Track 5 Gun Faireachadh 6 First We Take Dumbarton 7 Callous Parting Gift 8 Good Morning 9 Wasn’t Really Listening 10 Her Hair Hangs Down (David solo) 11 And Another Thing!! 12 Skeletons 13 A Compromise
That De Rosa were also on the bill was a huge plus. The gigs earlier in the year had been about establishing the band as a live four piece, but Saturday saw them take on more of the new songs from the forthcoming ‘Weem’ LP.
It was a largely successful exercise with the confident start of ‘The Sea Cup’ and ‘Spectres’ setting a very high standard. Two more new songs, ‘Chip On My Shoulder’ and ‘Devils’ closed the set and were somewhat more fierce in a live setting than on record, both featuring that rare beast, the De Rosa guitar solo.
There were also a couple of unexpected inclusions, the relatively rarely aired ‘Swell’ from ‘Prevention’ and a terrific (if currently inappropriate!) cover of Low’s season ‘The Last Snowstorm of the Year’.
But to some extent the performance only partially indicated how good the shows early in the year are likely to be due to the band acquiring more than their fair share of the day’s all too frequent sound gremlins. Rarely throughout the set was the sound in full balance, (Gill was almost inaudible on ‘Sea Cup’, James too loud on ‘Spectres’ and Martin’s guitar (solos) low in the mix on the closing tunes) and that undoubtedly lessened their impact.
Yet there was more than enough to make the show worthwhile and, like the Canaverals, the prospect of the band gigging more frequently next year is very exciting.
De Rosa played:
1 The Sea Cup 2 Spectres 3 Last Snowstorm of the Year 4 The Engineer 5 Nocturne for an Absentee 6 Swell 7 Chip On My Shoulder 8 Devils
The only other band on the main bill I was familiar with before Saturday was ULTRAS who opened the show proper. The good news is that, as their West End Festival performance had suggested, they have several more songs of the standard of the excellent debut single ‘The Path To Getting Paid’. On the evidence of their live sets (and the fact that they seem to be that rarity in the Scottish indie scene, a politically angry band) ULTRAS are definitely a band to look out for in 2016.
Of the rest, I finally got the chance to hear Kathryn Joseph properly and, fair to say I was impressed. Within my terms of reference Kathryn sounded a bit like Agnes Obel would do if she was more influenced by Kristin Hersh, and her solely piano based set was sublime.
Prehistoric Friends are a nice enough band but, like De Rosa, they were rather hindered by the sound. Which didn’t seem to faze them in the slightest as they were enthusiastic and looked like they were having a great time.
Which also applied to Bossy Love who put in an energetic set to get a fair chunk of the audience dancing ahead of the headliners. Their singer is great but they’re not really my thing and we did make a strategic withdrawal mid-set to rest our increasingly weary limbs before returning for their finale.
If you’ve seen Johnny perform in similar circumstances before you’ll have an idea of how enjoyable it was although we perhaps found out more about Johnny and Jason Donovan than we might have liked. Terrific stuff made all the more special by its relocation to the intimate setting of the café.
So yet another successful Baubles, still, without question, THE Scottish indie Christmas party.