Amidst the eclectic bill of the newly-inaugurated, roughly fresher-focused Pleasance Sessions events at Edinburgh University’s best performance space, this showcase from Edinburgh’s Song, By Toad label, blog and promotion empire (there’s another, larger one next Saturday) was the kind of event to evoke quiet pride that we have such transcendent talent working on our very doorstep.
It was ill-attended – although there were enough people to elicit deserved and hearty applause – and this was a shame given the great things happening. The nominal support slots were taken by folksy, downbeat singer-songwriter Ian Humberstone and by Falkirk musician, filmmaker and former Y’All is Fantasy Island fulcrum Adam Stafford, playing a loud and immersive set from his latest album Imaginary Walls Collapse.
Finally came Edinburgh-based Rob St John, with a set of six songs largely culled from his unscheduled next album and played alongside such Edinburgh alumni as eagleowl’s Bart Owl and Meursault’s emotive guitarist Neil Pennycook. Through most of these St John built and maintained a striking tone, somewhere between Leonard Cohen and Ian Curtis. This soothing, fully-formed sound played with a couple of tonal divergences, namely Pennycook’s shuddering metal guitar riff at the climax of Whites of Our Eyes and Sargasso Sea’s rich post-rock finale, both highlights of the evening’s sonic aesthetic.