Recorded live at The Traverse Theatre as part of the Soundhouse Organisation’s Spotlight Series, this gig is available online for a fee until March 15th.
It is a half hour set of old and new material by this singular artist, backed by a full and noisy band (guitar/bass/drums – Briggs/McIntosh/Briggs – and occasional keyboards and acoustic guitar from Dominic Harris himself).
Their last few records have been on Tenement Records, the most recent in 2017, but their debut dates back to 1995! Next up is their fourth album, recorded in America’s Bible Belt with Ricky White of Kling Klang and Oi Polloi fame, tracks from which feature in the live set.
The style is ranting, slightly Fall-influenced, with a Northern English brogue apparent in the intonation of the words. Also shades of The Nightingales, King of The Slums, Eddie Argos and maybe even Scottish ranters Stoor… It is also quite theatrical in its delivery, and interesting this is from The Traverse, quite apt, and BM could imagine DWL doing something more stagey in future…
First up is ‘Colonial’ – empire deconstruction! – there are some voice segments introducing the songs by Dominic himself.
DWL is Edinburgh-based and many of the songs reference local locales, such as ‘The Morningside Woodpecker’, which mentions several Edinburgh hospitals, to good effect.
‘Susan Sontag’ references a visit by the renowned author about meeting her hero Thomas Mann, which by the sound of things was a bit of a letdown! It is mid-paced and slightly less angry… There are so lovely but roughly-hewn harmonies.
‘Fly’ is a declaration that DWL “does not write the songs that people sing…” and “Wednesdays” about “a great night to go out and get drunk”… and it involves some actual hoovering onstage!
Of the rest of the songs ‘London, Paris, NYC’, and ‘Swansong’ are the best and exhibit some range of moods, from the reflective to the nostalgic… Last song is about a rockpool on the island of Tiree, (and God know what the device BWL is playing on this!)
In terms of visuals it is an in-your-face gig, the band sporting shellsuits but also pilgrim Fathers outfits with white ruffs (they switch between costumes and sometimes half one and half and half the other) – quite the combination of looks!
The overall effect is quite wonderful, Harris spouting a stream of jagged lyrics, and another contemporary reference would be Sleaford Mods, if they knew anything about Morningside…
Overall a grand half hour of entertainment for your £5 upwards fee and BM recommends the albums as well, mainly available on Bandcamp.