Music review: Sacred Paws, Summerhall, Edinburgh

Sacred Paws marked their return to live performance with a faultless set of jangling highlife guitars and winning, pure pop melodies, writes David Pollock

Rachel Aggs (right) and Eilidh Rodgers of Sacred Paws
Rachel Aggs (right) and Eilidh Rodgers of Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws, Summerhall, Edinburgh ****

Rachel Aggs never used to wear shoes when she performed live, she explained at Sacred Paws’ very first gig back after the pandemic-induced break – “our first gig in a thousand years” – but she’s given up on that ritual now. “Why?” asked drummer Eilidh Rodgers, her co-founder and other core member of the band. “Do you think you’re going to catch Covid through your feet?”

The new footwear situation may or may not have been the most unusual part of returning to the stage for Aggs, but – amid the pair’s protestations that they were a bit out of practice with every aspect of what they do – this show was faultless, exciting and filled with a joyous sense of relief at being back. This was evident in the pair’s relentlessly enjoyable stage chat, even though Rodgers insisted she should have spent less time learning to drive and cook sourdough bread and more learning how to talk to audiences while they were away.

The Glasgow-based sometime Scottish Album of the Year Award winners appeared here as a quartet, adding depth and richness to a set of songs built upon the simple pleasures of frantically fast punk rhythms, the jangling power of Aggs’ highlife guitars, and a winning way with pure pop melodies.

They opened with The Conversation, a gleeful plea for connection which felt well-suited to being face-to-face with real live musicians once more, and bounced through an array of key Sacred Paws songs, including Shame On Me, Life’s Too Short and Almost It. All were played with love and greeted like old friends, as was one slower and more reflective new song, which was perhaps unsurprisingly about “looking back on things when you have a moment of pause.”

“It’s really weird when you do something every day of your life and then you don’t do it for two years,” said Aggs. “I’m having a lot of feelings. It’s good to be here, though.” Questions about whether dancing was allowed in Summerhall’s distanced, all-seated Secret Courtyard venue became moot after a few songs, by which time half the audience were joyfully up on their feet.

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