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Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells, Summerhall, Edinburgh

  • Published in Live


Playing only a handful of shows in the wake of the March release of their second album together (The Most Important Place In The World) Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat have for tonight become part of the Edinburgh Fringe prior to September dates in Kirkcaldy, Glasgow and Aberdeen & others (details of those here).

Having seen neither performer in any capacity before, a straight rendition of elements from the current album and its predecessor (2011’s Everything’s Getting Older) were where initial expectations were leaning. What was presented, however, was a show of great subtlety and at times near sublime stream of consciousness as Moffat’s characteristic wordplay was delivered over the mellifluous jazz of Wells and the other players.

Teasing the pause in the middle of 'Vanilla' out to seemingly twice it's recorded length and playing 'The Eleven Year Glitch' less like the album version (compared at times to the Pet Shop Boys according to Moffat) were just two examples of the fun being had with the repertoire tonight. Identifying with the ambivalence of locals to the festival by stating he’s always felt Edinburgh to be somewhere best avoided in August unless being paid and summing the month-long experience up succinctly with just the word “Jugglers” and a shudder, were in themselves enough to win over any remaining doubters.

Is Aidan Moffat more relevant than Robert Burns in this day and age? Having never had much time for the latter I’m probably in a poor position to judge but I expect those present tonight who’ve seen him previously have seldom been party to a better performance from him. Relaxed, chatty, honest and self-deprecating he was a man entirely comfortable in his surroundings and at one with the warm and appreciative crowd, aided no doubt by the excellent sound enjoyed by the band (most notably the trumpet player). Even breaking his snare drum near the end of the show did little to dampen his mood and he was soon off stage and chatting away with fans at the merchandise table on the way out of the hall. Having encored with ‘We’re Still Here’ it’s no understatement to say that everyone in the hall tonight left feeling very glad that that remains the case.

As the doors were a little late in opening tonight and the queue stretched down the stairs and out the front door Kathryn Joseph was already a couple of numbers in to her set by the time I arrived at the back of the hall. Her’s was a downbeat opening set for what, at that time, was in prospect a dourly entertaining gig yet her breathy, angst-filled vocals accompanied by sparse musical arrangements which meandered largely along the one path before petering out failed to really interest me, although the majority of the crowd seemed to enjoy what they were getting.


Augustines, Summerhall, Edinburgh

  • Published in Live


It's the start of the Edinburgh Festival this month (the largest arts festival in the world in case you weren't already aware) and what better way to kick start the festivities than hearing the bone chilling anthemic sounds of indie-rock sensations, Augustines.

Summerhall is lit up in twilight, setting up the mood for support act Adam Stafford who comes on stage with his own rendition of mesmerising, atmospheric acoustic folk. Gearing up the already filling crowd, Stafford puts on a very hypnotic show whilst some of the brash Scots cheer on the Falkirk born musician. 

The venue is now getting very close and personal for the main event with the place jam packed in minutes. Cue the switch off of the lights, Summerhall is dark and the crowd are sent into an immediate frenzy once they see the Brooklyn trio making their way on stage and diving straight into the first track, 'Headlong Into The Abyss'. 

Showing off his vocal skills, lead man Billy McCarthy is not in any way shy and belts out the lyrics making sure we all know what's in store. The crowd are pumped with their smart phones to hand snapping and videoing glimpses of this energetic set. Even with some of the much slower tracks like 'Now You Are Free', the trio still manage to put as much energy into it and keep the crowd happy. It starts with that anthemic build up on the piano and leads into some serious power guitar riffs and vocals, so much that the crowd are pumped and chanting along. Not something unusual for an Augustines set. 

If you are new to the Augustines, then it doesn't really matter as each gig is so emotionally exhausting you'll be very much invested with the guys by the fourth track. 

Other songs played early on were the bone chilling 'Chapel Song', crowd bating 'Ballad Of A Patient Man', sanctified 'Augustine' and the emotional feelings of 'Juarez'. A perfect mix of classic Augustines. This then lead into the guys blethering with the crowd and getting the Scots vote with the usual Scottish banter, from fried Mars bars to Saltires. If the crowd weren't already pumped enough, this got them going full throttle.

Later songs came from the band's second LP Augustines as well as "oldy" crowd favourite 'Book Of James'. By this point the guys are dripping with sweat, especially McCarthy who has been right into the thick of the music from the start. But it's not all McCarthy's energy that comes out on stage, guitarist Eric Sanderson runs about like he's on fire so much it's a hit and miss to see him. 

Now it's time for the first of tonight's encores. Typical Augustine style to milk the encore but who cares when the fans want it. 'Weary Eyes' is a personal favourite, and after McCarthy pondering on what they'll play next he settles on an acoustic version to which everyone is singing along. This is the pivotal point and 'The Avenue' and 'New Drink For the Old Drunk' are the way to go out ... For the third time. Suddenly it's only drummer Rob Allen on stage readying up the crowd before he disappears and ends up on the balcony with the other two, milking it for all it's worth. The trio head out with a room full of blissfully happy fans cheering them on. 

If you're in two minds about these guys, don't be. New or old fans, you don't want to miss a night out with Augustines. They make you feel alive and in the moment. They take away your inhibitions and for those couple of hours in time you feel more alive than ever. 

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