August Gig Catch-Up – Sharon Van Etten, Courtney Barnett and Broken Records live

Sharon Van Etten – Leith Theatre – Wednesday 21 August 2019

Broken Records – Summerhall – Saturday 24 August 2019

Courtney Barnett / Baxter Dury / Hockey Dad – SWG3, Glasgow – Thursday 29 August 2019

Never done this before, but if I try to write about every show I’ve been to recently separately, I’m going to fail. So here’s a whistle stop tour of some of my recent shows.

Sharon Van Etten at Leith Theatre was one of those ‘take a chance’ shows. I’ve only got 2 of her albums and fully expected to know fewer than half the songs she played.

I don’t think it would have made much difference if that had been the case because some of the stand-out performances on the night were the songs I didn’t know. But as it turned out I knew around three quarters of her set as she played everything from this year’s ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’.

Despite that the stand-out might well have been a solo cover of ‘Sunshine On Leith’ which was met rapturously. But my abiding memory of the show is what a consummate performer Ms Van Etten is. A terrific show.

The following Saturday, Broken Records provided the evening’s entertainment for myself and MPK2 (who’s a big fan). Support came from Broken Chanter, but I’ll return to them another day.

The first surprise was that, in less than 2 weeks since the Bodega show, the stage in the Dissection Room had been raised by a good couple of feet. Which felt rather strange.

There was nothing strange about the performance. The show was intended to celebrate ten years of the band and the main set accordingly was split into four quarters of three songs, each segment drawn from one of the four studio albums.

It did make for a slightly erratic running order, particularly since the band played what they fancied rather than any definition of the hits, but the quality was undeniable.

At the conclusion of the main set, Jamie tried to pull the “we’re just going to play the encore without leaving the stage” trick at the end of the main set and inevitably, it ended in cheers as the band departed. And so the band had to come back on again after all to play two “less rehearsed” oldies (the notional “encore” had been two new ones). And the crowd, finally, left happily after that!

August’s final show was a trip to Glasgow to finally see Courtney Barnett at the opening night of Indian Summer series of shows.

Biggest takeaway of the night? I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying to get to SWG3 on the same night as a home Rangers European tie!

So, by the time we got through we only managed to catch three acts.

Hockey Dad were a grungey duo, not as weird as No Age but a bit more modern than say the White Stripes. They were quite enjoyable but, despite the promising initials, nothing really jumped out at me.

Baxter Dury was next up and again I enjoyed the performance without wanting to rush out and buy the records.

Finally, Ms Barnett with a set split almost equally between the two “proper albums.”

I confess that I was a little underwhelmed and I’m not entirely sure why, particularly since the songs were still stuck in my head three weeks on.

I think there’s something about the presentation – CB is definitely building up the guitar hero element live and why not? She can certainly play.

Or maybe it was the fact that that the second album material seemed a little reduced in the live setting. But good as it was it didn’t entirely catch fire for me until the closing, superlative ‘Pedestrian At Best’. Worth stressing that I’m certain I was very much in the minority and MPK2 without much in the way of prior knowledge certainly enjoyed himself. And it wasn’t anything like a bad show, just not mind-blowing.

Having said that I’m glad I went but I did leave feeling that it would take a classic third album to tempt me out again.

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