Gig review: Jules Reed, Pleasance, Edinburgh

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Jules Reed is not so much, as billed, the alter ego of Edinburgh-based composer Julian Wagstaff as he is an excuse to liberate his boyish rock ‘n’ roll star tendencies, on this evidence.

Jules Reed - Pleasance, Edinburgh

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There’s a David Bowie and a Ziggy Stardust in there somewhere, but Wagstaff doesn’t quite draw the same demarcation line between them.

Playing to a modestly-attended Pleasance bar in front of a crowd with an apparently substantial proportion of friends in it (a lady he identified as his mother got him a glass of water on request; his brother was manning the sound desk; his backing singer Luci Holland regularly stepped down to take her place among the seated audience), the welcome he received was warm, and this couldn’t have been described as the most challenging arena in which to test his songs.

Yet in launching his new EP Five Songs For Your Consideration, Wagstaff – just a lone acoustic guitar player, besides Holland’s involvement – was free to experiment with a range of self-penned styles straight out of the classic rock playbook.

Come On Yeah was written about his student days in Reading, with a classic example of bedsit poetry in its “I’ve got a reason for living /that reason is living” couplet. Central Station Sings enjoyed a more delicate, soulful vocal reminiscent of Style Council-era Paul Weller, while You’re Still Here benefited from Holland’s distinctive, folk-styled voice.

Despite his plea not to be judged too harshly by the complicated, showtune-style Don’t Take My Baby to Town, there was a messy musical stumble midway which was well-recovered from, but possibly only completely forgiven after resonant and faithful covers of Bowie and Queen’s Under Pressure and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Have You Ever Seen the Rain?