Bitter wind and ice halts the march of Spring but the warm arms and eclectic homeliness of The Glad Cafe welcome the throng of revellers in to a BBC 6 Music Festival showcase celebrating the Glasgow launch of Song, by Toad Records cornerstone Meursault‘s new Album, I Will Kill Again. The event comes after the huge success of the Edinburgh launch at the Granfalloon a month ago. Two more Toad acts complete the bill: Siobhan Wilson and Jonnie Common.
First up, Siobhan Wilson. The bonnie chanteuse blends guitar with mesmerising vocals to create darkly beautiful laments on love and tragedy. Her performance, tinged with literary references, evokes imaginings of furtive glimpses of otherwordly creatures. Every song is captivating, but a wonderful performance of Dear God, featured on Song, by Toad’s Split 12’’ Vol. 3, stands out. The quality of Wilson’s performance is reflected in the pin-drop silence that is maintained as the sell-out crowd gathers.
Jonnie Common on electric guitar and his chum, Gav Thomson, on brass play a short set largely comprised of work-in-progress tracks for a forthcoming album. There may be a shift in sound ahead musically for Common, with less beats and synth present in this performance of the new material than appear on 2014 hit album, Trapped in Amber. Lyrically, however, Common continues to wow and tickle with rhymes musing the absurd existence of the everyday 21st century human being. A chilled out version of Shark and samples featuring Common fan Lauren Laverne complete the brilliant performance.
The constant reincarnations and variations of the Meursault band tend to result in unique and memorable live performances, and this is just that. Playing mainly tracks from the new album, those expecting to see a rehearsal of the recording will leave disappointed. Everyone else will leave feeling like they have just had every reason why live music is important literally hammered home. Tonight’s band includes drums, fiddle, accordion, piano, electric guitar and, of course, the power and depth of Neil Pennycook’s vocals. The wild and furious performance, including of title track, I Will Kill Again, is astounding. A piano offstage in the crowd provides perfect opportunity for a change in volume (but not intensity), with an acoustic rendition of Day Drinker, a track not on the new album, which strikes awe in those lucky enough to be at the gig. Having reached boiling point, the epic show opens a new chapter for Meursault and amplifies the importance of the new album.
As spring continues its march, it surely must bring blossom and fruit to Song, by Toad Records and all three acts for their wonderful contribution to new Scottish music.