“THIS was such a bad idea,” noted the Ninth Wave’s lead singer Haydn Park-Patterson a couple of hours before the bells, of his decision to turn up at this most Caledonian of occasions wearing just a kilt, bare chest and flowing white-blond hair. “I was trying to be really Scottish, but it’s so f***ing cold…”
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party, various venues, Edinburgh ****
Goosebumps aside, though, he and the rest of the young Glasgow-based quartet made a big impression on Edinburgh’s multi-generational Hogmanay Street Party crowd. Park-Patterson’s look here may have been more in line with that of Biffy Clyro, but his soaring, dramatic voice was reminiscent of the Waverley Stage’s pre-Bells headliner Marc Almond, with elements of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis and the Cure’s Robert Smith blended in on sharp-chorused anthems like All the Things We Do and Flowers Into Wounds.
The Ninth Wave’s music bears traces of early-noughties emo rock and coolly standoffish 1980s synthesiser pop in the vein of Ultravox, Yazoo or Almond’s Soft Cell, and co-vocalist Millie Cook – who took over lead on Used to Be Yours – has a fierce style with echoes of Alison Moyet. For every reason they were a band to remember, and the perfect opener for Almond.
Where the Ninth Wave were seizing an opportunity, however, Almond looked simply thrilled to be taking part in such a unique concert, gleefully filming the audience and his surroundings on his phone. Dressed all in gothic black, he has an extensive repertoire of songs dating back nearly four decades to choose from, but on this occasion he, his band and his industrious pair of backing singers had stripped the show down to just the hits and the livelier numbers.
In practice this meant his set came in a few minutes shorter than even the modestly billed 50 minutes, but it was also a perfect exercise in an artist reading their crowd and giving them what they need. He opened on the bouncy, disco-flavoured Adored and Explored, and moved into the grooving yet unlikely hangover anthem Bedsitter. Midway through the set a slight change of pace arrived with the elegiac torch singing on Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart – the audience’s hands swaying and Almond’s late co-singer Gene Pitney credited in the intro – before a return to the energetic with a gallop through the Days of Pearly Spencer and Jacky, his signature electro hit Tainted Love and a crowd-pleasing cover of T.Rex’s Hot Love.
Almond ended on the pointed assertion that Say Hello Wave Goodbye was the perfect way to see out the year and decade, although an hour beforehand the headliners of the new High Street Stage in Parliament Square had offered an even more appropriate choice of song on which to reflect, with Idlewild’s serrated A Film for the Future screaming of uncertainty to come and the perils of following false leaders. David Pollock