Tuesday, 25 June 2013

GIG REVIEW: West End Festival all-dayer at Oran Mor 23.06.2013

Having previously only been able to live vicariously through others who'd been to the West End Festival All-Dayer in past years, the fact that this year's fell on my birthday made my first experience of it all the better. The lineup was typically brilliant and it was a day full of the best of the Scottish music. 

Starting my day off properly in The Venue, I was able to catch the end of Pronto Mama's set. Playing an original form of indie-rock, with a masterful balance of their vocals they manage to open proceedings with a strong performance. The day begins as it means to go on, going from one great performance to another, split between The Venue downstairs and The Auditorium upstairs. 

Moving to The Auditorium, I was able to see Campfires in Winter put on a masterclass in Scottish rock. One of the most consistent live bands on the scene right now, they give everyone upstairs a true show of talent with their own brand of brilliant rock. Teasing a new EP due in September, the band give us a taster of what is to come as well giving someone who'd travelled all the way from Germany a dedication on their current single, White Lights, which is a spectacular track and the highlight of the set. For one of their earlier sets, the Campfires have garnered themselves a strong audience and its clear to see why. 

Deciding to stay put upstairs proved to be an excellent decision as Adam Stafford was up next. Stafford is the King of the one man show, showcasing a sheer talent in vocals, loops and music, as a whole. And let's not forget he's got some of the best dance moves on the circuit, which are worth watching his set for alone. Less than a month away from an album launch (which will be on July 15th at The Glad Cafe), we are treated to the newest single 'Galvanise' and it's another stunning track from an artist who is at the top of his game. The album sadly will not be called the title that Stafford teased us with on Sunday (Tit-Wanks That I've Known and Loved, if you were wondering (it is called Imaginary Walls Collapse)), but this once again proved that his banter is up there with the best of them and balances out the intensity of his musical performance. If you haven't been able to catch Adam Stafford yet, I highly recommend that you do.

Making a flying visit to The Venue, it was time for Washington Irving to take the stage. Already having a strong year following the release of their album Palomides Volume I, they bring a large and warm crowd into the confines of the downstairs venue. Their live show is very strong and their indie-folk certainly appeals to masses, reminiscent of Frightened Rabbit and Admiral Fallow. The early evening performance gets the crowd bopping and suggests they can only go from strength to strength here and, with Palomides Volume II due later in the year, they've got surely even bigger things coming their way.

With that I make my final move of the day and settle in at The Auditorium for, without doubt, one of the strongest double bills you could be offered today. It is Meursault who take the first slot, and absolutely pack out the room. Having not seen them for a few years I was amazed to see how far they've come and just how strong their performance has become. It is a mind-blowing show, moving from highlight to highlight, though my own personal one is definitely 'Dull Spark', from their SAY award shortlisted album 'Something for the Weakened'. The crowd continues to show them the love and warmth they absolutely deserve and it's clear that we've just seen one of the best bands in the country put on a simply powerful performance that none of us will be forgetting any time soon. 

The band that had the task of closing out this wonderful day of Scottish music were none more than The Twilight Sad playing a stripped back set. There were a few of us who were slightly disappointed that was not going to be an amped up performance but that was quickly forgotten as the set began. The stripped back Sad are extremely powerful, in a totally different way from the electric performance, and it's enough to lead you to be taken aback slightly, just by the music alone. The set is made up of more earlier tracks than newer than I expected but is definitely a strength, as James Graham notes that he'd been told recently they had been performing as a band for ten years before the band play us a special version of Cold Days From The Birdhouse, the song he believes got them this far. It is hauntingly beautiful. James also manages to pay tribute to RM Hubbert and his recent SAY award win, in his own brilliant way ("Bastard!"), and gives a shoutout to Adam Stafford and his cover of Walking for Two Hours, showing just how inter-connected and friendly the Scottish scene is. All the bands love to support each other and this day has shown this better than most. 

I could hardly have asked for a better birthday present than the gift of all this brilliant live Scottish music from bands I adore in a suitably wonderful venue, with a lot of friendly faces in the crowd. This may have been my first West End Festival All-Dayer but it's definitely not the last. I am looking forward to next year already. 

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