It was St Andrews night and a pretty freezing evening when much-loved Scottish indie heroes Admiral Fallow returned to King Tut’s for the first of two nights playing their debut album in full, and then some.
First up was Motherwell-born, Glasgow-based Kim Grant, aka Raveloe, who gave us extracts from her debut album playing electric and acoustic guitar with Jason on occasional backing vocals and a bit of tambourine. BM reviewed the album very positively recently and tracks like ‘Old Lessons’ (which begins with “It’s a digital funeral…”).were just wonderful tonight and yes some tears were shed at the sheer yearning beauty of the words and music.
The by now pretty much packed venue, not all being necessarily familiar with her work, kept quiet during the songs and clapped loudly between them – BM suspects she might have gained a few new fans tonight.
‘Ghost Beach’ was evocative and stark, followed by ‘Purple Loosestrife’ (named after a plant, she explained). The set ended with ‘The Chair Is Nowhere’, another gorgeous song – and BM was again getting shades of Joni Mitchell, Emma Pollok and in fact the following night’s support Jill Lorean. As Kim said, there is a full band Celtic Connections show in January – should be great!
By the time Glasgow’s Admiral Fallow came on BM had been to the bar and with the number of people in the room it just was not feasible to elbow back into the crowd. The result was zero view of the band except from the screen above the bar – this is not a complaint (the venue is ‘reviewing’ the limits for certain gigs depending on the kind of crowd they are attracting, average age etc – the problem being basically that a bunch of 40-somethings are on average bigger, more inhibited and less enthusiastic than say a teenage audience who will simply surge forward and get messy with it).
The previous BM outing here (Nadine Shah) was exactly the same so this reviewer kind of expected to watch this with live sound but second hand visuals. As it was the sound was great (Mr Dempsey strikes again, BM could see his grey quiff towering over the desk at the back!) and the band were maybe a bit nervous but in excellent form. And of course that debut album ‘Boots Met My Face’ make it a modern classic, from the first line “You sleep like a kid”‘ from ‘Dead Against Smoking’ throughout its 10 songs.
At the time (2011) it cemented the band maybe somewhere between indie, trad and pop in a modern Scottish style – not afraid to use more extensive instrumentation (BM thinks there were up to 10 players on the stage at times, led by the mild-mannered but very talented Louis Abbot). Some have also compared AF’s approach to the initial Arcade Fire musical take, which BM also gets.
There was a bit of banter with the audience (they have played more infrequently in the past few years with parenthood being one of the main reasons), and some references to tracks never attempted live before or not for a long while at least. After the initial album run-through Louis joked about stopping but said it would be a shame to have collected all those musicians on the stage without having a crack at a few more, so we got ‘The Sad Clown Cast’ (someone is going to correct BM and say it’s on that album but BM can’t find her copy and the digital universe makes this a bit unclear, it’s certainly very familiar sounding indeed!), then a couple of tracks from more recent albums (including a hand clapping ‘The Possibility…’) and a welcome run through ‘Paper Trench’ from album number two ended the gig – until a repeat performance tomorrow!