HEADLINED by Mercury Prize nominees and former Edinburgh College of Art graduates Django Django, with tremendous support from band of the moment Chvrches, this was an indubitably Scottish line-up for Hogmanay and one of the best in recent years.
Local singer-songwriter William Douglas opened the gig with his backing band The Wheel, his Neil Young-influenced folk-rock warmly received by the gathering crowd, who appreciated the simple melodic draw of his signature tune Sunshine and tracks such as retro rock ’n’ roll closer Higher.
One of the breakthrough acts of 2013, Chvrches demonstrated again why there’s been so much buzz about them. With a search engine-optimised name, an inclination towards lyrical darkness and an unabashed reverence for the 1980s, the Glaswegian synth-pop trio might come across as po-faced and austere, were it not for the chatty warmth of singer Lauren Mayberry and the immediate impact and accessibility of their tunes.
With Iain Cook and Martin Doherty mixing familiar and enigmatic electro soundscapes behind her, effortlessly exhorting those in front of them to dance, Mayberry’s glacial vocals soared across the chilly night air on the oddly compelling vindictiveness of We Sink and the dysfunctional aura of The Mother We Share. Arguably though, the highlight of their set proved to be the shimmering Under the Tide, with Doherty taking the mic – the vocal interplay between him and Mayberry an underused weapon in their arsenal.
Like Chvrches, Django Django have made significant inroads into the United States this year, and the psychedelic art-rockers were in party mood, breaking out the bongos and coconuts as is their wont, but also appealing for the crowd to respond with some jazz-hand waving. They offer quite a gumbo of genres and styles, the country-influenced Firewater carrying significantly more oomph live, while the wonderfully daft, desert rhythms of Skies Over Cairo sounded like an exotic and unholy union of the Specials’ Ghost Town with Egyptian Reggae by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Life’s a Beach, meanwhile, flitted between a catchy surf-pop riff and a desolate keyboard sonata, a real box of tricks.
Post the Bells and last but not least, it was left to the punkish snarlings and irreverent glam rock campery of the Rezillos to ring in 2014. Singers Fay Fife and Eugene Reynolds prowled the stage with gleeful showmanship, the insistent drums, fizzing guitar and “Work it!” refrain of (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures emerging as a standout alongside the 50s-style rocker Getting Me Down and the still newish, still sparkling No 1 Boy.