Live Review

Little Comets, Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh

Geordie quartet baffle Edinburgh with fairly straight forward political reference.

After the security staff have given every kid in the queue a pop quiz on their passport, a stream of TopShopped teens flock straight to the front of Cabaret Voltaire’s modest stage. It’s nice to see a band who are still off most people’s radar generate this much excitement in a city that isn’t their own, especially when that city is the notoriously nonchalant Edinburgh.

This means local support, Blank Canvas, get the pleasure of playing to an audience that are actually forced to pay attention. Their singer decked out in a Franz Ferdinand t-shirt, it’s unsurprising that their brand of indie rock seems a few years out of date. Their performance is a little nervous and some songs sound like The Rakes’ cast-offs, but they’re definitely not bad.

The crowd are more taken, though, by Big Sleep. They suffer some painful backing track malfunctions, and give the air of a band who have left their worst enemy in charge of the sound desk, but their slinky pop tunes and Matt Healy’s effortlessly soulful voice still shine through. They’re a Paolo Nutini for people who like to dance; a Cyndi Lauper for people who prefer looking at boys and aren’t from the past.

If Little Comets were one of the seven dwarves, they’d be Happy. Even when they sing their serious songs, they emanate positive energy from the stage. Drummer Mark Harle only ever stops smiling to pull faces at the people in the front row, and as the rest of the band rattle the percussion they’ve got tied to the ceiling, their rapport would be infectious with or without killer tunes.

Their songwriting, though, is equally sublime – all quirky pop tunes, twisty lyrics and catchy choruses. While ‘Isles’ feels like it would perhaps fit better in an era of Kaiser Chiefs and Ordinary Boys, it’s a minor niggle that most of the room appear to disagree on. Their knack for melody, dynamics and danceability is so impressive, they make Vampire Weekend sound like squares.

Having finally released their debut album, ‘In Search Of Elusive Little Comets’ a couple of weeks previously, their crowd aren’t only singing along to the singles any more. The packed room’s reaction to ‘Joanna’ and ‘One Night In October’ may have been the biggest and bounciest, but the delicacy of people singing along to ‘Mathilda’ is much more special.

Bass player Matt Hall lighting a match beside his microphone to accurately recreate the opening of ‘Her Black Eyes’ is evidence of Little Comets’ attention to detail. When front man Robert Coles tries to explain the meaning of ‘Darling Alistair’ to the crowd, though, their effort falls on bewildered ears. The former Chancellor, no?

As fans queue afterwards to get photos and autographs, it seems clear that Little Comets don’t just win people over in half measures. And Edinburgh – shy little Edinburgh – for once doesn’t seem shy about professing its love.

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