Live review: PAWS, Edinburgh School For The Deaf at Sleazy’s, 4/11/11

Having travelled back from Edinburgh, where I had been lambasted and left half deaf by my companion for not having played trombone in a successful band (a story which I won’t flesh out here), it’s appropriate to walk in on Edinburgh School for the Deaf, whose blissful sound fills every chasm of Sleazy’s and, fledgling trombone player or otherwise, offers one of the more poignant insights into a tender yet visceral reimagining of leviathan musical influences.


Hints of comparison with The Valentines, Echo and the Bunnymen etc should be enough to set a context without undermining the progressive motivations of the music; ethereal levity being a key component shared along this lineage.

This venue, steeped in history for so many preceding Glasgow acts, is a fulcrum for ESFTD to feel their way through the live manifestation of June’s enrapturing album, ‘New Youth Bible’ as well as divulging some instinctive performance of their technically inventive and luscious sound.

Vocal interaction sets the palette for an immersive, cultured sound, where fragility is smothered and then exposed within the dynamic whole.

More brooding masculine lower tones give way to higher enchanted female pitches and behind this the sustained guitars help to sculpt a fluid backdrop.

The languid pace and feel of the music affords the opportunity for cunning deployment of more abrasive feedback, crunch and crude intermittence of noise which avoids being overly controlling as the direct and impactful asides melt back into the melodic themes.

Here is a band that are not going to feel pressure to forcefully engage audiences but instead will carefully build their sound and draw those present into the more thoughtful and concentrated aspects of their performance.

Feedback and effect here are valued components of the sound that is being created, not a call to arms or punchy retort.

Following the swooning, delicately varied outpourings of ESFTD come PAWS, who refer more closely to American influenced noise and the cross-Atlantic effect of the post-punk influences which both bands share.

It is useful to have a fresh take which plays to a different crowd and counterpoints realised influences.

There is more invasive use of feedback which suits this style and higher tempo, flourishing guitar work meted out between standard rhythmic thrashing.

At the front of the stage I am embroiled in the energetic and abrasive output of the band and the physical incitement to become involved is fierce.

Here there is no mediation between audience and the band, who jump forth into the space left to them to get as close to those present as they can, involving everyone in excitable expressions of physicality.

For a brief time my own forced feedback and thrashing ‘grace’ the guitar as the floor becomes a chaotic maelstrom and without a trombone in sight I have inveigled myself in this particular performance.

The downside for me at this point is that my over-zealous engagement leads to flailing and falling through doors and other unfortunately- positioned traps.

At which point the outcome becomes almost a forgone conclusion.

Words: Joe Leightley
Photos: Debbie McCuish

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