It was hard to escape a raw sense of finality underlying this tenth anniversary show for much-loved Edinburgh label Song, By Toad. For reasons both personal and professional, SBT’s founder Matthew Young – one of those people who helps pull together and drive along musical scenes for a time, just through sheer force of wanting to get things done the way they’d like them to be – had also announced that this would be the last ever Song, By Toad event.
Music review: Song, By Toad Tenth Birthday, Leith Depot *****
With the knowledge also lurking in the background that Leith Depot, a wonderful, versatile neighbourhood bar and venue, is scheduled for closure and demolition as part of a locally disputed student accommodation development, there was a sense that the crowd had to do their partying while they still could. Song, By Toad recording alumni were not in short supply, with Faith Eliott and members of Modern Studies involved.
The recently revived and ever-welcome eagleowl played a set of the label’s minor classics, as originally recorded by artists including Rob St John, Adam Stafford, Jesus H Foxx and Siobhan Wilson – “We thought it would be fun to under-rehearse some songs and butcher them in front of Matthew,” said singer Bart Owl, with typical SBT self-deprecation – and Broken Records, the band whose debut album the label was founded to release, also appeared. They eventually went with the marginally more well-known 4AD, but Jamie Sutherland’s epic, Springsteenesque vocal fitted well in these intimate surroundings.
The final set was an unannounced solo appearance by Neil Pennycook, aka Meursault, perhaps the artist most associated with Song, By Toad over the years, and his theatrical final act of the label’s legacy – smashing the guitar he played on his first ever SBT recording and ceremonially presenting it to Young – was an impressive, emotional way to say goodbye. DAVID POLLOCK