Emma Pollock / Clem Snide / Iain Morrison / Fuzzy Star / De Rosa – Aberfeldy Town Hall, Friday 4th November 2016
A couple of years ago we’d gone up to Aberfeldy for the evening and regretted not being able to experience a little more of the Festival and the town.
Our plans got a little bit of a setback when I discovered during the week that medication I’m on says ‘avoid alcohol’. Which meant that this was a drier event than we’d anticipated, and frankly, Aberfeldy festival isn’t exactly the place to go to avoid alcohol …
Despite De Rosa, and Emma Pollock being on the Friday night line-up, this could potentially have gone either way. Certainly, we were expecting a lot of from Emma and De Rosa but, other than seeing (and enjoying) Fuzzystar once before, the other acts didn’t mean a lot to me.
After arriving mid afternoon we got down to the Town Hall early as the start time was a little uncertain from the advance publicity. Which was just as well because a change to the scheduled running order meant that De Rosa actually opened the evening’s proceedings just after 7 p.m.
The performance had been billed as an unusual one as Gill was to play harp with the band for the first time. This, it transpired, was down to drummer Neil’s paternity leave meaning that the three remaining musicians delivered an all acoustic set.
Starting with the rarely heard ‘Steam (Comes Off My House)’ it turned out to be a set made up of older tunes with nothing off comeback LP ‘Weem’ (despite the village just being up the road).
The other notable feature of the evening was the fact that the band slightly overran – due to Martin talking so much between songs! That’s got to be a first but it was nice to see.
It was certainly a gentle start to the evening but a great showcase for Martin’s songwriting. One suspects that the band’s next show, playing debut LP ‘Mend’ in its entirety for the first and only time, will be somewhat louder.
Fuzzystar were also somewhat louder. The Edinburgh four-piece crashed through an impressive set of mildly anthemic rock pitched somewhere between Book Group and Broken Records. A debut album is apparently in the works and I’ll be keen to investigate that on this showing.
I confess that I knew little about Iain Morrison beforehand although the band’s set-up, acoustic guitar, violin and cello, suggested a very trad experience. Which wasn’t close to the correct story as Morrison and band, anchored by an excellent rhythm section, fair rocked out. A very pleasant surprise and reason enough to go searching out his SAY Award nominated ‘Eas’ album.
The other new act to me was Clem Snide on this occasion a solo performance by Eef Barzelay rather than a full band set. Barzelay falls rather into the ‘madman with guitar’ category when playing solo but his acoustic performance was delivered forcefully and with great charisma. By the end he had both his long term fans and new admirers eating out of the palm of his hand. A great set.
With the show having more than lived up to its promise it was left to Emma Pollock and her band to bring the evening to a fitting end with their last show together for some time.
The set drew largely from this year’s ‘In Search of Harperfield’ with a few older tunes thrown in for good measure. Emma’s really grown into an engaging front woman and she was very entertaining throughout whilst the set, very occasionally ragged but always laden with charm, demonstrated just how many great tunes she has.
Called back for an unexpected encore she initially persuaded Jamie to accompany her on piano for ‘House On The Hill’ but thought better of that after a few bars, and stopped the song to invite Graeme and drummer Martin back to the stage. However she just couldn’t persuade Graeme that the band could play the song so we instead got a run through of ‘Confessions’ to close.
Worth mentioning whoever had the inspired idea for the show to be compered from the balcony. The first time you would have been aware of Tim Turnbull would undoubtedly have been when his voice boomed out apparently from thin air. Dalguise’s answer to Vic Reeves was an excellent host mixing poetry with the occasional exhortation to the crowd to enjoy themselves.
Also entertaining was author Ian Rankin who regaled us with tales of his musical background mainly focussed on his stint in Fife’s second best punk band (out of two) Dancing Pigs.
Our only regret in the end was that we didn’t stay for the full weekend but, despite the presence of Kid Canaveral, the Saturday night would have been a bit of an expensive gamble. Indeed that’s really the only criticism of the Aberfeldy Festival – for a four hour show the £25 ticket price is on the expensive side. But then again you’re really paying for the experience and that will only be complete if stay for the duration.
De Rosa played:
1 Steam (Comes Off Our House) 2 Hattonrigg Pit Disaster 3 Ship In The Sand 4 The Engineer 5 Hopes and Little Jokes 6 Pest 7 Under The Stairs (A Christmas Reverie)
Emma Pollock played:
1 Cannot Keep A Secret 2 Red Orange Green 3 Clemency 4 Vacant Stare 5 Parks & Recreation 6 Hug The Harbour 7 Dark Skies 8 Paper & Glue 9 Old Ghosts
10 House on the Hill (aborted) 11 Confessions
Some more photos: