The Pictish Trail – Hospitalfield, Arbroath – Saturday 6th July 2019
Having been denied a full band Pictish Trail show in Cupar for the opening night of EDEN, an opportunity to fill that void arrived just 3 weeks later, even if it meant going to consecutive shows in Arbroath. And Hospitalfield was to prove an appropriate name for the show but more of that later.
What wasn’t clear beforehand was where the actual gig was going to be. The room for the Gillian Fleetwood concert seemed an improbable home for a space-pop show but we weren’t clear if there was a larger room anywhere else in the building.
Turns out there wasn’t – the show was in the gardens outside. We certainly weren’t alone, in both being surprised to be attending an outdoor show and entirely unprepared for a possible drop in temperature later on or, more critically, the potentially ferocious insect life. We had little choice other than to make the best of things but, fortunately, that wasn’t to prove difficult.
The Pictish Trail were clearly still in experimental pre-season mode with Cupar’s three piece line-up ditched in favour of a tight, four piece with Johnny joined by Suse Bear on guitar/keys, Iain Stewart back on drums (yay!) and new signing Guto Pryce on bass.
The stage robes of the last couple of years also appear to be a thing of the past mainly although Iain kept the fires burning with a lovely full length gold lame effort, perhaps intended as a midgie barrier. However successful it was at that, it undoubtedly would have been much better at trapping heat.
Experimental tactics were also the order of the day when it came to the setlist with the three-song set from Cupar used to open the set rather than act as a post-Jupitus comedown (“I’ve sacked the band” was Johnny’s explanation), whilst, once the rest of the band did hit the stage, there was also a healthy helping of new tunes destined for the next Pictish long player.
By the time the band reached the hits, Iain had ditched the robe although it wasn’t clear if the equally lovely green and red top he had on underneath the robe was a Welsh international training top from the 1970s or simply the top half of an elf’s costume.
Then came the incident that everybody will remember the show for. Announcing that the next song was one for everyone to dance to, Johnny leapt from the stage to coerce Bart Owl into leading what was to prove an ill-starred conga. Just seconds after the above photo was taken, the celebratory atmosphere turned into one of horror with a multiple person pile-up in front of the stage. I’m afraid the scene was simply too gruesome to photograph. Or possibly I was laughing too much to take a photo. It was definitely one or the other.
“Well, that was the shittest conga ever” was Mr Lynch’s less than complimentary comment on a well-intentioned effort at audience participation. They’ll not be so easily persuaded next time, Johnny!
‘Winter Home Disco’ and ‘Dead Connection’ helped end the set on a high before the band were pulled back onstage for a couple of more tunes to round off a brilliant evening.
The show proved that the Trail have not just the depth of squad and but also the ability to vary their tactics to suit the occasion. It’s always tricky making pre-season predictions but not in this case- you can bet the house that the Pictish Trail will retain their title as Scotland’s most entertaining and engaging live act over the coming months.
Roll on the next time. Hopefully there won’t be any fecking midgies …
Medical postscript: MPT did indeed suffer a number of midge bites at the show whilst Mrs MPT avoided those but received a horrible cleg bite instead – that is *still* visible nearly two weeks later.
I have no idea when the conga causalities were eventually discharged from Ninewells …
Forthcoming Pictish shows:
FRI AUG 9th – Lost Map: Callum Easter / Molly Linen / Fell / Pictish Trail @ Prison Tan Series, The Social, LONDON Tickets: FREE (reserve here: bit.ly/2XGyCxP)
AUG 15th – 18th – Green Man Festival, WALES (full band) – SOLD OUT