Gig review: NoMeansNo, Edinburgh

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“We’re from British Columbia, Canada,” declared punk rock icons Nomeansno. “Everyone there is from Scotland aside from the drunken Irishmen.”

NoMeansNo - Electric Circus, Edinburgh

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They’re certainly knowledgable enough to offer stage chat that’s several cuts above the norm. “It’s a long time since we’ve been to Edinburgh, the last time was pre-Enlightenment,” went one worthy one-liner. “This song is dedicated to everyone who lost their land to the sheep,” rang out another.

This was a show with heart, humour, men in their fifties hollering as if their voiceboxes would be of no more use to them afterwards anyway and some of the meanest, most compulsive and ferociously spirited basslines you’re likely to hear.

Formed by brothers Rob and John Wright in the late 70s and completed by Tom Holliston two decades ago, the trio have a very welcome ability to play neither as if they’re just going through the motions with one eye on the paycheck, or as though they’re a lifeless, worthy, note-perfect tribute to their younger selves. Long praised as one of the founders of the obscure math rock genre, the perfect and unlikely fusion of punk and jazz, they played with frantic dexterity and a winning attention to detail.

The Tower and the growling menace of Slave were both delivered with a fast, danceable rhythm that was almost post-punk in origin, while unexpectedly delicate harmonies made their way into I Don’t Care. The World Wasn’t Built in a Day was tremendously moody, a rare excursion in slowed-down songwriting, while The Graveyard Shift was prefaced by the winning sight of Holliston barging a crowd-surfer offstage. A rare and mesmerising treat from beginning to end.