Meursault / Jonnie Common – La Belle Angelle, Edinburgh (Friday 4th)
Pip Blom / Personal Trainer– The Caves, Edinburgh – (Wednesday 9th)
St Christopher Medal – Birnam Art Centre (Saturday 12th)
Bis / LIINES / Spare Snare – Mono, Glasgow (Sunday 13th)
She Makes War / Skating Polly – The Lexington, London (Friday 18th)
Tae Sup Wi A Fifer – Stuart Braithwaite / Gwennifer Raymonde / Bell Lungs – Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy (Saturday 25th)
October’s shows got off to a cracking start with a double header of Meursault and Jonnie Common at la Belle Angele. Jonnie is someone that occasionally seems to come into my orbit but I think this was the most I’d enjoyed a set of his.
The current Meursault line-up is comparatively stripped back set compared to previous years with Neil Pennycook backed only by long term collaborators Callum and Reuben. Largely based around the excellent new album, this was the second time I’ve seen him play since he started performing again as Meursault but given the quality of the source material, it wasn’t any surprise how good this was.
That show was a followed by a double Dutch bill at the Caves. Support Personal Trainer were an odd mixture, very visual but probably only about half the songs hit the mark for me. Pip Blom were far more energetic than I’d imagined (perhaps it’s the company they keep!) but it kind of meant that the songs bled into each other and in a set that barely lasted 40 minutes (with no encore) there wasn’t much opportunity to differentiate the tunes.
We had to go to Birnam to catch effectively a hometown show for St Christopher Medal but it was worth the trip. On this occasion swollen to a 7 piece, they managed to do justice to the lush soundscapes of the new record with a few selections from the debut thrown in for good measure. Nice venue too.
A promise of an early finish lured us to Mono for the Bis / LIINES / Spare Snare triple header.
Whilst Spare Snare were as reliably great as ever the other two didn’t live up to my hopes. Whether it was the longer running time or something else, I just didn’t enjoy Bis as much as I did at Indietracks.
We’d been looking for a second gig to attend in London when down to see the Dream Syndicate. We eventually plumped to nip along the road from the hotel to the Lexington to see another double header featuring She Makes War and Skating Polly on the basis of a little preview material of both acts and the fact that one of them had collaborated with Tanya Donelly.
She Makes War (the performing name of Laura Kidd from Bristol) were billed as “doom pop” on the Lexington website which was neither enticing nor remotely accurate. Largely a three piece on the night (including Mike Youé of the Blue Aeroplanes on bass) they were joined by an additional guitarist for a couple of tunes whilst Laura performed a handful of tunes solo with ukulele and loop pedals (although not Tanya).
We were really impressed whether Laura was in rock goddess mode with the band or on her own on the more delicate solo numbers. But the conclusion to ‘Scared to Capsize’, which she ended her set on, was sublime, joined by various friends and bandmates to sing the wordless chorus. A wonderful way to finish and one of the year’s best discoveries.
Skating Polly turned out to what Belly might be if they were a lot punkier but I would have enjoyed them a lot more had it not been for the anti-social behaviour of a tall guy in front of me who insisted on putting down and picking up his drink several times during each song.
October concluded with another eclectic Tae Sup with a rare solo performance from Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, some impressive guitar wizardry from Gwennifer Raymonde and some solo weirdness from Bell Lungs.
All grist to the mill!
Snaps from the shows …