Meursault / Wojtek the Bear – Summerhall, Edinburgh, 10th November 2022
It was Meursault that heralded the arrival of the pandemic for us. We had tickets for the show at La Belle Angele in March 2020 but bottled it. So it was nice to bring things full circle by catching this show 30+ months on.
The show debuted the new six-piece line-up but not, as billed, any new songs. Instead we had a reprise of a lot of the ’Crow Hill’ material with the rest of the set drawn from across the Meursault back catalogue, plus a Viking Moses cover.
The main selling point of the show therefore was the debut of the new band. And it’s an unusual line-up.
Whereas previously, Neil could jump between different contrasting styles from one album to the next, this line-up feels more like an expansion of the previous approach. This is perfectly illustrated by the fact that Pete Harvey has been replaced by not one but two violin players. And there’s a flautist as well!
As with the pre-pandemic three-piece, the rhythm comes from Neil’s samples so it’s definitely less of a rock-line-up.
The effect though isn’t quite as left field as might be imagined. Instead, Neil and cohorts find their way towards the beauty in the songs whilst retaining their core appeal.
This could have been a feet finding exercise but it’s so much better than that, whether on the noisier ‘Crow Hill’ material such as “Fuck Off Back to Art School” or a fantastic ‘Run Harmony Run’. Neil performed a handful of numbers solo with the highlight undoubtedly being an unamplified ‘One Day This’ll All Be Fields.”
Towards the end, Neil explained that he was keeping all the new songs back until the new, already recorded, album is out. He promised that it’s “very special” and it’s easy to believe that on this evidence.
But perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay the show is that, despite the line-up changes, this simply sounded like the latest re-generation of the ever-evolving phenomenon that is Meursault.
It was the second time I’ve seen Wojtek the Bear in the last 12 months but I don’t have much to add to what was said previously. They’ve got nice songs, a nice line in banter and the set was enjoyable. I like them.
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