Sweltering in Mono – Pictish Trail live

Lost Map 5th Birthday Show – Pictish Trail / Firestations – Mono, Glasgow – Friday 20th July 2018

The first of the Lost Map birthday shows at a sweltering Mono featured an attractive double fill of label Head Honcho, the Pictish Trail and band, and comparatively new signings Firestations.

I’ll confess I’ve always had a slightly odd relationship with the Pictish Trail records. Whilst very much an admirer of his voice and his song-writing I’ve always felt that Johnny Lynch’s songs only truly come to life in a live setting. Over the years I must have seen him perform either solo or with a band in the region of a dozen times and he seems to present his material in a different way just about every time. Yet the recent Glasgow show at Mono was, without a doubt, the best of the lot.

Whilst officially a show to mark the 5th birthday of Lost Map, in practice this was also something of a warm-up gig for imminent festival appearances not least because Suse Bear, a stalwart of the live band in recent years was unable to play due to Fringe commitments. Into her place stepped not one but two replacements – Cammy Maxwell on bass and keyboards and Gill Fleetwood on keyboards and harp.

The new Pictish Trail band

Yet it was difficult to believe that this was their first show with the band because the band fair crackled from start to finish. The aforementioned stylistic variety has seen Johnny range from hard rock to folk-psychedelia in different gigs at different times. This time though it was different.

We had a blissed-out ‘Michael Rocket’ through a hard rocking ‘East of Ether’ to a sublime ‘Dead Connection’ yet we still hadn’t even reached the mid-point in the set. There was still the magnificent drama of ‘Half-Life’ and ‘Far Gone (Don’t Leave’) and, rumour has it, even a new song. By the time of the final, full-on Moroder homage of ‘Brow Beaten’ Johnny had managed to cram everything into the one, exhilarating show, complete with the now traditional knee slide through the audience.

Euphoric from start to finish, the show encompassed everything you’d want from a Pictish show. And then some. If this was them just warming up I’d have loved to see them at full throttle.

Firestations

Support came from Firestations out promoting their second LP ‘The Year Dot’ issued earlier in the year on Lost Map. We first came across them at Kid Canaveral’s Xmas Baubles in 2016 and were very impressed.

The new LP sees the band refining their sound of their excellent debut and as you might expect they favoured it on the night. But ultimately, I was a little disappointed by the show on the night in part because I kept hoping that they were going to play my favourite Firestations song ‘Never Closer’. When they didn’t, I just thought they were just leaving it to the end, but, no, they didn’t play it at all!

In its place we did however get ‘Forgetful Man’ from the debut leading into a mighty closing ‘Build A Building’ (an MPT Song other week earlier in 2018) which did make for a more than decent finale. But I think I would have liked it if they’d cut loose a little more often.

Lynchian