Note: This review is from the 2021 Fringe

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Admiral Fallow‘s first worldwide album release. And, like so many other performers at this year’s Fringe, this is the first time they’ve appeared on a significant stage in a year and a half. Because… Well, we all know why.

The Scottish based band perform a combo of indie and folk with a slightly pop edge. But as this sold-out one-off appearance is billed as an acoustic set, it’s Admiral Fallow’s more folksy vibe that takes centre stage. For a 75 minute show, this poses somewhat of a problem. Much of their repertoire relies on the foot-stomping effect that’s best evoked with the pounding of percussion. Yet, other than a very slightly flat feel to the first couple of numbers (perhaps due to some of the inevitable technical glitches that arise while sound-checking before a first/only night) the gig holds its momentum, rousing and soothing its audience in equal parts.

The old and the new feature – songs from their back catalogue as far back as a decade past, as well as new releases: Subbuteo, Dead Against Smoking, Guest of the Government, Evangeline, and Sleepwalking all notable inclusions in the line-up. However, the show ends on a unique cover of Talking Heads‘ 1980s tune, This Must Be the Place.

Four out of the five band members are present, between them covering the clarinet, flute, keys and strings, plus a spot on the loop pedal. Sarah Hayes‘ mellifluous vocals meld seamlessly with those of the lead singer, Louis Abbott‘s. And it’s the charismatic frontman Abbott, who’s responsible for the evening’s laughs – of which there are plenty – bringing a warm sense of shared communal experience to proceedings.

Summerhall’s Secret Courtyard – a semi-open-air marquee venue – is the perfect setting for this performance; Admiral Fallow’s dulcet tones are complemented by the sight and sounds of rain gently falling and the twinkling of fairy lights just beyond the tent. The band create a sense of intimacy and have the ability to fill the voids inevitably created by socially distanced seating in what is effectively a large tent. The group go out on a part standing ovation; a testament to their impeccable musicianship, imaginative lyrics – and heart.