Slots at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe can be hard to come by, and with venues constantly in use they can also be quite tight, and so given only a 2-hour slot to put on a gig, Admiral Fallow put on a showcase of their own music and talent, no supports, just one full Fallow set. And we're all very glad they did.
"Gig-going connoisseurs amongst you will notice there was no support tonight.", Admiral Fallow's lead singer Louis Abbott notes to the audience mid-set, "That's because we want to play a long time." Rapturous cheer follows this remark and Louis goes on to make a Lionel Ritchie joke, showing that he can still banter with the best of them on the Scottish music circuit. In fact, if you had walked into this gig at a few points you would have been forgiven for thinking it was a comedy show, with the audience participation levels high and lots of laughter.
But this was very much a music gig and the crowd in attendance were treated to 90 minutes of the best of Admiral Fallow. The band deftly move between their debut and sophomore albums, never missing a beat and proving that they are a band with many strengths. A few of the older tracks have received a little makeover ("so we don't hate them when we have to play them together" Louis notes), in particular 'These Barren Years' which has been given a much slower take that builds to a massive finish. It's hard not be awed when you see a band completely turn a song around and give it a whole new life, just by rewriting how they perform it live. Another such track which gets some new treatment is 'Bomb Through the Town', performed by only Louis, Sarah Hayes and a string quartet. The most wonderful thing about this hauntingly beautiful rendition was you could hear a pin drop in the crowd, the band had their complete attention and adoration. It was a joy to be part of such a thing.
In addition to the older tracks receiving a new lease of life, we also got a small window into the what's next from the band. Playing a never before heard, and not yet named (for the night it was called Queen's Hall Posse, a reference to the continued audition participation throughout. Though I wish it had been called 'Steeeeeeeeeve!', the name given to an as-yet unnamed song when Frightened Rabbit played the same venue a few years back.), we get to see a band that continues to grow and develop, this song is definitely an advancement and a new Fallow but there are also very familiar traits of the band on show. I, for one, am certainly interested in hearing much more where this came from, the song itself has anthemic qualities and will surely be a sing-along hit in years to come. The introduction of the new song also lead to the night's longest running joke; "Pick your favourite current chart hit..."
Other highlights of this gig were the rapturous response to 'Squealing Pigs' (our reward for being so quiet during the new song), the dancing reaching all the way to the back of the room and up into the top decks during hits like 'Beetle in the Box' and 'The Paper Trench' and the well-deserved encore that featured the simply beautiful 'Four Bulbs' performed to an enraptured and completely silent crowd followed by the wonderful 'The Way You Were Raised' to send us off into the night. In fact, the entire set was peppered with hits and highlights that it's hard to pick just a few. And whilst the crowd didn't quite use their voices to sing-along as much as I'd like at a gig, they certainly gave the band the attention they deserved and the band gave us so much to enjoy. The banter is particularly strong, reminding me why going to an Admiral Fallow gig is much more than just a music performance. And they have so much talent that they are bound to follow in the footsteps of Frightened Rabbit, Scotland's current indie darlings.
The Queen's Hall is one of the best venues in Scotland and, on this Tuesday night, it was host to one of the best gigs of the year, and a performance by Admiral Fallow that those who were lucky enough to be there will be talking about for a long time to come.