First admission for this review is that I shouldn’t really be here; I’m suffering from a pretty nasty throat infection that has me struggling to swallow anything, but that doesn’t stop me giving a few of The Hug and Pint’s lovely selection of beers a go; bad idea it turns out.
Anyway the reason I struggled down this evening is that Detour, along with London based forward thinking ticket company DICE, are putting on yet another gig with a difference; this time that difference being the line up is completely secret.
Well a few people knew, including myself, which is again part of the reason why I made the effort, but in hindsight a look at the Detour Twitter feed seems it wasn’t that difficult to figure out, although bumping into Tom from GoldFlakePaint, who ran a competition where the person who guessed closest to the actual line up won tickets, reveals that no one guessed a single act correctly.
Secret line up, it’s been done before, what’s special about that? What’s special is the sheer pull that Detour seems to have, the show sold out well in advance with the appeal of seeing acts out of their natural habitat and indeed most aren’t let down.
Tonight’s headliners, Admiral Fallow, are more accustomed to playing venues the size of the Barras these days than tiny basements, and the Pint’s basement is tinier than most; that’s not to say they’re out of place, Louis Abbott and co. worked their way up through smaller venues to where they are now, indeed I recall seeing him somewhat bizarrely opening a show featuring Holy Mountain and the now defunct Glasgow hardcore act Prolife in Variety’s cramped bar space some years ago.
First up tonight though is Supermoon and I was particularly excited to see Neil Pennycook under his new alias, indeed he addresses this early in the set quipping “I used to play in a band called Meursault… Who I killed,” before launching into a stripped back version of the ethereal yet powerful sound he has become renowned for.
Meursault was always a powerhouse prospect live with Pennycook’s strong, distinctive, clean vocal and clever emotive lyrics always hanging over woozy soundscapes, Supermoon isn’t much different, so there’s no need to worry on that count.
The only thing to worry about is sound problems in the venue as after a couple of ear splitting booms the mic stops working, but Pennycook is a seasoned enough performer to keep everyone entertained with some bad jokes, while is the issue gets resolved.
There’s still that dry humour hanging around his lyrics too and this flows into his banter as he invites Liam Chapman (“who you might recognise from… every other band in Scotland”) on stage to take on drum duties, before the show almost evolves into a full on comedy set with Pennycook’s mock bullying of the ever-likeable drummer.
The addition of percussion to the set only goes to enhance an already stellar performance; this act may have changed in name but the quality is definitely still there in abundance.
Next act, Forever are somewhat of a wildcard, but apparently Detour’s David Weaver has been banging on about then for some time now, and indeed from this outing musically they show plenty of promise.
Clicking percussion and a rather minimalist sound that’s topped of with sunny riffs, give an impression of dream pop with the sun shining on it (daydream pop if you will), however the vocals seem somewhat of acquired taste.
There’s a weird eccentricity about the almost spoken word vocals that are delivered with a touch of manic joy, but could easily have Forever forever in the Marmite camp.
The Pictish Trail follow upstairs and surrounded by an array of electronic equipment Johnny Lynch seems filled with crazy delight as he delivers a thoroughly engrossing set, which begins on soothing beats and twinkles with mumbled heartfelt loveliness and casually progresses into chaos.
Whether delivering adorable ballads of over charming lo-fi soundscapes or shouting “yeeeeah” and “oh shit” over brash dirty electro beats his set never gives and is relentlessly entertaining.
“I don’t have any songs to go with that” he quips during the latter track, before launching into a hilarious rap bit as the set continues with much bravado and constant ridiculousness.
Then we move into the 30-second song section of the set, which sees the harsh nonsense of ‘Sweating Battery Acid’ played twice and the “longest 30 second of your life” ‘Birds’ finishing the set before Lynch introduces tonight’s headliners with the line “downstairs Admiral Fallow are going to strip naked and reveal their admirable phallus’.”
By the time Admiral Fallow do take the stage I’m struggling somewhat, those couple of beers have taken full effect on my throat and I’m really feeling the heat in the packed sweaty basement, still I manage to hang around for the first few songs of what appears an assured and confident set from a band that I admittedly haven’t really given much time to since their 2010 debut Boots Met My Face eventually lifted them to the masses.
From what I manage to stay for they project an assured impression crammed onto the tiny stage, and even off to the side of it, sounding as tight and big as I remember them from years previous.
I even get a wee feeling of reminiscence as Abbott announces they’re going to play and old one before ‘Squealing Pigs’ engages the audience with as much sing-along glory as it had in venues like this five years ago; doubt you’ll get many opportunities to see it in one again.
I sadly can’t make it to the end and have to leave before my throat totally shuts up and leaves the night in tragedy, but from what I see it’s another extremely successful evening from one of Scotland’s most cherished promotion duos.
Words: Iain Dawson