Extreme Medieval Horror – Adam Stafford live

Adam Stafford / Hailey Beavis – The Anatomy Theatre, Summerhall, Edinburgh – Thursday 3rd May 2018

It seems a long time ago now but Adam Stafford launched his new double LP ‘Fire Behind the Curtain’ at Summerhall little more than a week ago.

Originally scheduled for the main Dissection Room, the room was moved to the much more intimate Anatomy Theatre, probably for the best although it was a slightly surreal experience watching a show from the (dis)comfort of a 19th century university lecture theatre.

I’d wondered if there’d even be room for a band in the well of the theatre, particularly since Adam was supposed to backed by not just regular sidekick Robbie Lesiuk, but also by Josh Swinney on drums and Pete Harvey on cello.

The space dilemma was unexpectedly resolved by Pete’s no-show although a bout of shingles seemed a reasonable excuse (and the source of this piece’s headline, in case you were wondering)!

Support came from Hailey Beavis who, if I recall correctly, I saw opening the Come On Gang! farewell show/album launch a number of years ago.

I confess I didn’t recall anything abut her set but it turns out that she’s rather good at this singer/songwriter lark.

Armed with a guitar, she delivered a charming solo set peppered with amusing anecdotes to match the music, although on reflection perhaps the spider bite story was a little less than charming!

Her final tune though saw her use a loop pedal to build a different type of song. It was impressive and, like the rest of her set, very well received.

With a longer than normal set, Adam was able to properly reflect the diversity contained on the new record and, with the backing of Robbie and Josh, explore some of the numbers he wouldn’t normally be able to perform solo. Chief amongst those was a driving, repetitive ‘Museum of Grinding Dicks’ as close as the set came to conventional rock.

The Adam Stafford Jazz Trio

For much of the set, Josh’s contributions were subtle (I think the full kit was only otherwise used on ‘Zero Disruption’) but they definitely helped expand the songs. Josh departed a few songs before the end leaving Robbie to continue for a further couple of tunes before even he left to allow Adam to finish the set a capella.

‘Shot-down You Summer Wannabe’ was dropped in as an unexpected treat (the only non-FBTC song) before Adam finished the set with a massive ‘Penshaw Monument’, which remains a staggering achievement for one man and his voice.

The only disappointment of the evening was absence – not hearing Pete’s contributions on cello. But perhaps that might happen later in the year, always assuming of course that Adam hasn’t moved onto new work by that time.

Nevertheless tis was a fine which managed to engage throughout whilst displaying the breadth of Adam’s talent.

Adam played:

  1. An Abacus Designed To Calculate Infinity
  2. Zero Disruption
  3. Sails Cutting Through an Autumn Night
  4. The Witch Hunt
  5. Fanfare for the Mourning Tallow
  6. Invade They Say Fine
  7. Museum of Grinding Dicks
  8. Holographic Tulsa Mezzanine
  9. I’m You Last Week
  10. Shot-down You Summer Wannabe
  11. Penshaw Monument