Breaking bands were given a crack at playing live again via Perth Festival’s online talent showcase.
The annual event’s Scotland Trending series of gigs saw some of Scotland’s hottest performers take to the Fair City’s major stages — albeit without a single paying punter being present in person.
Glasgow alt-rockers Cloth’s lo-fi stylings can be an intoxicating experience under normal circumstances. The three-piece’s shows tend to hushed, almost reverent affairs, and thankfully minimum intensity was lost in their recording from Perth Theatre’s Joan Knight Studio.
Angst-free music you can’t categorise
Rachael Swinton’s fragile vocals complement twin guitars and drums to make for an almost therapeutic listening experience — theirs is enigmatic yet angst-free music that defies easy categorisation.
Cloth’s confessional lyrics provide more questions than answers and — with zero clues provided outwith song by the trio — efforts like Old Bear and Curiosity Door chime subconsciously; a neat trick to call upon in post-rock.
Taking an altogether different tack, Scots nu-folksters Hector Shaw and Beth Malcolm also showed off accomplished skillsets.
The former’s beautiful acoustic balladry boasting cosmic imagery eased viewers in to the latter’s rich-voiced, keys-led set.
Along the way, the Celtic Connections award-winner told stories from her Perth upbringing, provided a history lesson in Leavin’ Loch Leven, and earned bonus points by asking distanced followers to “try that at home” as she hummed and whistled her way through the quirky Lighthouse.
Piano troubadour Angus Munro’s OTT opening salvo Too High could easily sum up his remarkable vocal range — while his hilarious between-song banter was equally on point.
Endearing himself to watchers with the not unreasonable description of his “elegant and finickety” playing, this Crieff-raised talent’s zeal is most definitely real — Angus, clearly, just loves to perform.
His new song Stepford Way namechecked Isaac Asimov, Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford — what’s not to like? — and the likes of The Feeling would surely kill for a tune with the hit potential of Equaliza.
Tremulous vocals and a country aesthetic
Tasked with opening for band-of-the-moment The Snuts, solo Dumfries songsmith Kate Kyle seized her opportunity at the Mill Street venue.
The inventive When The Devil Comes Close and the slower, poignant Gone both highlighted the teenager’s tremulous vocals and darkly-shaded country aesthetic.
She visibly relaxed into That Was Yesterday, a rousing anthem which may well become her signature song, but it was her potent finale Confetti — a meditation on how we should “just treat people with kindness, because you never know what they’re going through” — that was Kate’s most direct statement on the night.
All in all, Kyle provided an atmospheric warm-up ahead of indie rockers The Snuts, whose opener All Your Friends was saved from sub-Kasabian/Kaiser Chiefs hell by its fairly banging chorus.
The Whitburn outfit quickly hit their stride, with Always evoking the prospect of a crowd waving fists to its snappy verses in better days to come, a swaggering Arctic Monkeys-like funkout via Elephants, and the ned-sampling slow starter Glasgow, which swiftly morphed into a widescreen epic that’s sure to be box office even beyond the M8 corridor.
Tracks like No Place I’d Rather Go — no better than a fair to middling sway-along — and the rather earnest Boardwalk were less than attention-grabbing in mid-set, however.
Lacking their Leicester antecedents’ propulsive beats, the mini-Kasabian vibe returned on Don’t Forget It (Punk), before the playful Coffee And Cigarettes hinted at an I Bet You Look Good…blag.
Frizzly-haired frontman Jack Cochrane’s knowing singing style is more South Yorkshire than West Lothian, and he downed his guitar for the band’s two catchiest songs Maybe California and Somebody Loves You.
Freeing up his hands did little to help expose shades-wearing Cochrane’s invisible charisma, though he did manage to mumble something about “the notorious Snuts”, while also claiming their final song carries “an important message” and urged his PFA punters to “breathe it in”.
It was a predictably inane declaration from the leader of a highly proficient outfit who may yet live their rock ‘n’ roll dream — but only if they’re prepared to really let the shackles off.