Photos: Su Anderson
So here it is. The first ever Radar gig in Auld Reekie. Our nerves tingling with excitement and just a little trepidation, we await the arrival of the music loving masses - and the Electric Circus’s impressively attired karaoke kings and queens.
The show’s felt a long time coming, but with a roll-call of Bronto Skylift, Capitals and effervescent tunesmiths Mitchell Museum we’re hoping the weeks of shameless plugging have been worth it.
Now the anticipatory strain’s finally lifting from our shoulders, Radar Prize runners-up Bronto Skylift (right) make their way to the stage. In our eagerness to get the gig going it quickly becomes clear we’ve not ticked off the most important item from tonight’s task list: earplugs. Damn. Combusting like a bomb of splintering glass in our lugs, the Glasgow-based duo rip through their set with battering ram intent.
A self appointed “euthanasia support group” (the noise will kill your granny, apparently), Bronto’s visceral blasts are underscored by Niall Strachan’s expert axe-handling and the extraordinary skin-pummelling of Iain Stewart. They might notch decibel levels of bands triple their number, but their rapacious din is far from incoherent; the delivery of red-raw cuts like ‘Danny Glover isn’t dead’ and ‘Cobblepot’ oozes Mensa-like intelligence as each track screwdrives through the audiences' craniums.
With our eardrums adapting to life post-Bronto (it’s kind of like living with internal ear-muffs), Capitals (right) swagger to the fore clutching Apple-branded technology and an armful of ambitious pop tunes - plus an extra member on bass. For an outfit playing their first show on (adopted) home turf, there’s no shortage of confidence to their trade. Striding through a fulsome set without any sign of nerves, the Edinburgh-via-Inverness duo’s engaging tuneage is the perfect foil for dancefloor friendly rug-cutting.
Admittedly, the band are unashamed lovers of big, commercial hooks, but the neon stargazing of ‘A Spectre is Haunting Europe’ and ‘Hands Divided’ offers yet more intriguing fare. Here, Keir McCulloch’s glittery effects bounce brilliantly off frontman Angus Carbarns’ handsome intone, creating soundscapes that run the gamut between glossy pop and esoteric electronica. To think that this is their first show of any real significance is remarkable.
Coming off the back of a UK tour, Mitchell Museum (below) have been busy wooing the nation’s indie press (and the Financial Times) of late. So as the Glaswegian quartet step on to the stage tonight, we’re a smidgeon concerned tour-van jadedness could erode their traditionally mayhemic set. But, luckily for us, time out on the road has invigorated the band’s illuminating melodies. This is a Mitchell Museum we’ve never seen before: consistent, honed in and extremely well oiled.
Jaunting their way through debut LP The Peters Post Memorial Service (although threatening to impale us with a swathe of Phil Collins covers), the inter-band dynamic seems telekinetic, shaping a sound that tightens like a Hulk Hogan chokehold. Orchestrated by the zealous gesticulations of Cammy Macfarlane, tracks like ‘Tiger Heartbeat’ and ‘Room For Improvement’ swell into the room as a kaleidoscopic bubble of ebullient keys and percussion.
The sweeping gusto of ‘Take the Tongue Out’ is breathtaking, surging out at breakneck thwack while the band headnod along in eerie tandem. A cover of M.I.A’s ‘Paper Planes’ underlines their predilection for shimmering, unconventional pop, while ‘Warning Bells’ is a heartbreaking waltz of Modest Mouse-like splendour that singles McFarlane out as a unique and engaging frontman.
After a vivacious set packed full with giddy indie chimes, Mitchell Museum more than prove themselves one of Scotland’s leading musical lights. And as the curtain falls on our first Radar gig in the Capital, we’re left with a strange sense of satisfaction and a constant ringing in our eardrums (thanks to the Bronto boys). So, the big question is, when’s the next one?
[Bronto Skylift raise the roof]
[Onlookers keep a safe distance as Niall wields his guitar]
[Capitals glide through their debut gig to a rapturous reception]
[Mitchell Museum in action. Note drummer Raindeer sporting a Bronto t-shirt]
[Mitchell Museum make a few adjustments]