Gig review: Kathryn Joseph/Happy Meals/PAWS, Paisley

Whether by accident or design, this Scottish Album of the Year Award showcase at Paisley’s annual Spree festival featured three completely contrasting acts from this year’s shortlist, including the eventual prizewinner Kathryn Joseph, attesting to the diversity of the award and, by extension, the spread of music being produced around the country in the past 12 months.

Kathryn Joseph
Kathryn Joseph

What one made of the individual acts was entirely down to personal taste. In some ways, Paws were the most conventional outfit, a melodic grungey power rock trio of the kind Scotland has long turned out. Lovely though this Spiegeltent is, it was not really the environment for their garagey thrashing. Bassist Ryan Drever had a droll dig at the older, sedentary crowd, though he must have known that the cluster of young lads around their merchandise table after the set were their target audience.

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Electro pop duo Happy Meals were a more exotic proposition. From behind a table of technological treats draped in plastic ivy, Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook conjured a combination of vintage analogue synth soundtracks, sultry Eurodisco and acid house ambience overlaid with Rodden’s engaging Franco-Scottish vocals.

Main event Kathryn Joseph perched pertly behind an upright piano, fixing the audience with a purposeful look and beseeching with her childlike voice and sometimes mannered delivery, and her hypnotic, often spectral piano playing. The songwriting varied in quality and focus but Joseph easily silenced the room with her more direct, folky entreaties.

Seen on 15 October