03 January 2010

Live Review - The Second Hand Marching Band, Benni Hemm Hemm, applesofenergy and Meursault at Stereo

Since I started this blog I have tended to veer away from doing reviews, I think the last time I did a live review was within the first week, and that was of a festival in San Francisco, I have always erred on the side of caution and passed the buck and get Boab to do my dirty work. Basically I am getting my excuses in early if this turns out as bad as I fear.

Sunday nights for me can be pretty terrible, the combination of hangover and the dreaded fear of having to go back to work on the Monday morning can be a real killer as the blues start to kick in on a Sunday evening. Fortunately though this was no ordinary Sunday, I had been looking forward to this gig for a while now, I had seen apples and Meursault a couple of time before, but I was popping my proverbial cherry with the SHMB and Benni Hemm Hemm.

Having arrived at the venue fairly early I was unsurprised to find Jim Aye Tunes propping up the bar, so after grabbing a quick drink with him we sauntered downstairs for some aural pleasure. The gig was part of a series of gigs being put on by From a Stolen Sea to promote the release of the forthcoming applesofenergy album 'Mirror/Echo', they seem to be trying to a more personal touch back to gig going, as we have old school tickets with proper band logos, none of this pre-printed ticketbastard shite, no siree. As someone who keeps all of his tickets stubs, I think the term is sad bastard, these little touches mean a lot.

Anyway, I digress, the first band of the evening were The Second Hand Marching Band, Scotland's equivalent to say the Polyphonic Spree or I'm From Barcelona, except they have the tunes to back it up. If you have no idea who any of the bands are then I suppose I should explain, there's hundreds of folk up on stage, fifteen or sixteen I think, I can't be sure as there always seemed to be someone lurking in the shadows, and by the time I had spotted them, someone else had moved to play another instrument (talented buggers this lot).
Opening with 'A Dance To Half Death' the lead track to their EP (which you can freely download here), was a great way to kick the evening off. personally I fucking love that song, the build up to the chorus of voices is just epic. Although the rest of their set never quite lives up this blindingly good opening I must admit that I am a definite convert to the ways of the SHMB, with so many folk on stage I kept expecting it to descend into chaos, but fuck me for such a lrge band they're pretty damn tight, plus every single one of them seems to giving it laldy with a massive grin on everyone of their faces. When I grow up I want to be a Second Hand Marcher.

Next up is Benni Hemm Heem, to be perfectly honest I didn't know too much about these guys, Bob had been banging on about them for a while now, so being the stubborn twat that I am, the more he preached the less impetus I had to listen. To put it simply Bob was right.
Singing in half English and half in Icelandic, is quite a novel experience for me, and to be honest I actually preferred the songs sung in the native tongue. Backed by trio of SHMB
the horns, their anthemic songs really hit he spot for me, imagine an Icleandic Sufjan Stevens singing about ancient kings and you're half way there. They closed their set with a song called 'Retaliate', which for me was a highlight of the whole evening.

I think I have to be honest before I say anything about theapplesofenergy the solo project of Steven Gribbin, I consider him to be a friend, so it's difficult not to be seen to giving him a favourable review. What's even harder is trying to describe what he does, as the music he makes is not normally something that I would listen to and trying to find the words to describe it is even harder. Having seen him a number of times recently, you'd think that I would have managed to find some kind of way to convey to you what kind of music he produces, but each time I found myself very much outwith my comfort zone. His experimental ambient sound for me is a very personal experience, with each looped sound making it such an intimate experience for me. Each time I see him it's always different, almost as if you are being taken on a journey that mirrors the musical ride that fits your surroundings, Magical stuff, even if I do say so myself.

The last band of the evening are Edinburgh's Meursault, this was the third time I had seen them this year, my initial interest in the band came after someone compared them as a 'more electronic Frightened Rabbit'. I can understand why this association might be made, but then a lot of bands sing with a Scottish accent these days get lumped with that tag.
Singer Neil Pennycook's is one of the strongest bow in the Edinburgh bands sheaf, his voice is both booming and delicate at the same time. Tonight they were on good form, the new songs sound a lot more morose than those from their debut album, 'Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues', their second album is pencilled in for release in Arpil, it really could be a contender for the album of 2010.

Meursault - Crank Resolutions (6Music Session track)
applesofenergy - Summer Dreams
Benni Hemm Hemm - Beginning End
The Second Hand Marching Band - A Dance To Half Death

A massive thanks goes out to Wullie for the pics, check his flickr out.


  1. Aye cheers, make me sound like some kind of alcoholic why don't you!

  2. You mean you don't want folk finding out about the 'real Jim'?!

  3. I usually drink quite sensibly at gigs! Mostly cause I'm generally pretty skint and have a tight beer budget, but still, I'm not a raging drunk. At most gigs...