I’m embarrassed to say, this is the first of me venturing on the comparably short journey from Fife to the ‘burgh, to experience the now established and highly respected Limbo at The Voodoo Rooms; with an assured quality controlled and consistent line-up – tonight was to prove no exception, as the amusingly self proclaimed “Anti-Drumcore” stalwarts Eagleowl take the well earned headline slot supported by an ensemble cast of bands and musicians.
Opening the bill are an act who’s name belies their charming youthful vigour; not to mention gender – Newcastle’s Silver Fox grace the stage with a lo-fi setup and charmingly intricate, intertwining melodies; set against a befittingly rudimentary garage-rock clatter, they surf a new-wave of garage meets bubble-gum pop; taking their cues from the female-punk mould such as The Raincoats, The Slits and the likes of Shonen Knife and Electralane… with a tinge of The Velvet Underground not to mention more contemporary acts such as The Pipettes through to The Lovely Eggs.
‘Waves On In’ however bucks their noisnik trend with use of an ocarina and micro-keyboard, probably owing more to the slow-core brethren that may well have played on overwhelming influence on tonight’s headliners: Low. Over-all an impressive showing for the bands first gig, out with their Tyneside locality.
Having not seen The Scottish Enlightenment since the Fife four-piece enriched the eclectic Tigerfest 08 (Carnegie Hall shows), where their songs owed a fair debt to Steven Malkmus et al. (albeit, augmented by a string quartet at the time…) – but now their sound has matured into a languid sprawling sonic wonderland (more akin to Day Dream Nation era Sonic Youth, than spiky Pavement motifs). David Moyes’ song-writing relies heavily on Biblical imagery and religious associations and the disaffection thereof; he intones on ‘Bible in Hand’: “I changed my plans and it fell on the floor, I still went to church with anger and mirth, I taught Sunday school and my cup was full, my spirit is blackening fast” from the aptly titled album St.Thomas.
Without any doubt the enlightened quartet set the mood of the night nicely, with a textured sound aided by their five-string bass maestro; who throws in a few interesting chords amongst the understated but engaging squall of guitars and David’s dark drawl.
As the headliners creep on stage and ease into their set; the room falls into a hush as we fall into a hypnotic gaze with the band enshrouded in shadows and psychedelic fractals cast by the video backdrop helping to augmenting the enchanting sounds.
Tonight’s incarnation of Eagleowl are made up of a cellist; double-bassist, violinist/guitarist, drummer (shock-horror) and flanked by the unassuming but inimitable Bart-Owl on guitar/lead vocals who subtly leads the line; helping to creating a lattice work of sound and interchanging nuanced elements, as the percussionist makes deft use of brushes and beaters; the double bass, cello and violin gently weave in and out, and Bart and b’bassist Clarisse’s voice meld perfectly, all adding to a beguiling effect on the enraptured audience.
Were greeted with a string of new songs tonight (or at least a few songs I fail to recognise), so when they break out the likes of ‘Blanket’ and ‘Into The Fold’ from the EP of the same name, they’re greeted with hearty applause – as we reach the finale of the set and the final as yet unnamed song, they dispense with their staple slow-core form, suddenly metamorphosing into a post-rock juggernaut as the drums finally come to the fore, astride an ever building crescendo of guitar and strings; surprisingly raising the roof of The Voodoo Rooms; leaving some patrons somewhat shell-shocked but ultimately satisfied at this fitting turn of pace and tone.
With that rushing wave of sound – I’m carried into the crisp Edinburgh night running; the last-train looming and time ticking – only to be thwarted by the ever-present and much lamented tram-works…I end up ruing the unwanted obstruction but relishing the lasting impression Limbo has left on me and surely all those in attendance.