There was a giddiness in the air as the crowd arrived to see live music in a venue for the first time in an age, and the event didn’t disappoint.
Local band Cherry Red belied their inexperience to deliver a tight, dynamic set featuring killer harmonies, musical confidence and some great songwriting. They’re reminiscent of early Teenage Fanclub, with more brio than Busted and more joy than Joy Zipper. Highlights included ‘Jessie’, ‘November’ and ‘Mr Valentine’, and they have struck gold with set closer ‘C’est La Vie’, which got the audience clapping along. A cover of KT Tunstall’s ‘Suddenly I See’ speeded the song up a little too much, and their rhythm guitarist needs a bit more definition, but they’re one to watch.
3 out of 4 came from the Borders with fans in tow, and put on a slick show underpinned by an excellent rhythm section. They wear their Smashing Pumpkins/Pixies influences a bit too clearly on their sleeves, and could do with differentiating their songs a little more – there were times when they could have been any of the bands playing The Bronze in Buffy The Vampire Slayer (except Aimee Mann). Their Ramones-esque call and response to end the set finished in style, and the singer got to celebrate with a birthday cake on stage.
Headliners Wrest aspire to higher things. Coming from Dumfries, dressed in black, they have clearly memorised the late-80’s catalogue of U2 and Echo & The Bunnymen, refracted through Snow Patrol and Frightened Rabbit, to provide a warm bath of delay pedals, soaring vocals and emotive songs. It’s lovely to listen to, but again could do with moving away from its root influences a bit more if they want to crack the big time. Encores ‘Human’ (not the Killers song) and ‘Attack & Defend’ finished the night off with a bang.
Organisers The Belhaven Sessions pulled out all the stops for this show, and if they can keep that momentum going into their upcoming shows then East Lothian is in for some treats.