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Lift To Experience, Summerhall, Edinburgh

 Image:- Julia Stryj

In preparation for tonight's show I played Lift To Experience's (seminal?) album The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads for the first time in over a decade. It made little impact on me, which is probably why I played it so infrequently when I actually owned it. Frontman Josh T. Pearson has a legion of devotees I know but I've zero idea of what he's done in the years since that album came out although he was recently described to me as a sub-Father John Misty type preacher so I think I've a reasonable idea.

Support tonight turned out to be provided by Meursault, a seemingly handy occurrence as I’d never yet heard their more folky sound or seen them since their recent reformation. Technically, however, I’d say I still haven’t seeing as onstage there was only a dour, acoustic duo of Neil Pennycook and a violinist. There was a good amount of dry wit forthcoming, blether about Charlie Brown and sentiments about sea songs with which most there seemed to agree with but, given the oppressive heat of the hall, this wasn’t the greatest set to stand through.

Still, as Pennycook himself was well aware, Lift To Experience were everyone’s reason for shelling out £30+ to swelter so he did his bit with aplomb & vacated the stage on time. Only for the headliners to unfortunately be a bit late & then suffer some technical issues through the first couple of songs. Doubly frustrating from them and Lee from Leeds as they’d spent a couple of hours prior working on perfecting the sound in the hall and ensuring their transported equipment married up with Summerhall’s electrics.

A working Leslie pedal was though duly installed and the trio’s sound, already decently loud and defined, gained a further edge to put it in front of that heard on the album. Whilst Pearson’s vocals were largely lost in the music that was easily made up for with the sonically invigorating sounds produced by the group’s evident hard work. All three consistently looked like they were in their element and never happier than when onstage.

Between songs Pearson had a very engaging line in banter, clearly understanding the Edinburgh/Glasgow cheek he came out with rather than parroting someone else’s suggestion, along with honest & unique chat aside from that. Selfies (or “handjobs”) with the crowd and the band’s steer skull mascot were taken prior to the final song of the album set, rounding out one of the best atmosphere’s I’ve seen at a show in a long time.

Pearson returned to do a one man encore of ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ which saw a decent number of audience members singing along before he graciously and gratefully called an end to the proceedings. I still don’t see myself rating The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads highly as an album but as a live experience it’s in a different league. 

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