Gig review: Aberfeldy/Dateless

Aberfeldy/Catherine Feeney/Dateless

Edinburgh Liquid Rooms September 18, 2006

With venues disappearing to be turned into Executive flats, it’s good to see that Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms remains very much open for business. It’s especially good to see Aberfeldy headlining a packed Liquid Rooms, having seen them supporting the Fire Engines and Sons and Daughters here in December 2004.

But first, the evening starts off with Dateless. One fella and his keyboards, and two girls wearing matching blonde wigs and pink skirts, they take to the stage without much fanfare, but by the end of their opening number (something along the lines of ‘I don’t see as much of you as I’d like to’) they are winning the crowd over. There are eight young girls dancing in front of the stage, and I can believe that they could fill places with girls inspired to copy not just their dancing, as they do tonight, but their clothes too. They sound similar to Client with the keyboards and the long-lost act that was Dubstar. You can dance, you can clap and you want to take their records home, if there were any to buy. Their six song set is a delight. I wanna know more (and please post some tracks on your myspace site!
After this, Catherine Feeney is kind of an odd choice to follow on. She’s got a suitably ever-so-slightly husky voice, nice songs and enough stage presence to fill the place, which is no mean feat for anyone who has to play to a packed room with just an acoustic guitar in a full venue. And she plays that guitar well…but the songs don’t linger. Yet.

As I say, I saw Aberfeldy supporting here less than two years ago. Now they are headlining a homecoming gig that’s full, including many people who have rooted for them for years. As they open with ‘A Friend Like You’ it’s clear from here on until the rest of the evening that they have grown so much. The songs just flow, and sound bigger than ever, without bombast. In all the times I’ve seen them, Riley Briggs has never lacked for confidence -and I wish I could pull off a safari suit like he does – but they just so have it now. Thye songs have always been there, but they are so tight you wonder if Pete Doherty’s a former label-mate cos he knows he’s gonna struggle to keep up.
Riley’s stage patter suggests a sense of humour that must see them through the gigs when there aren’t many there (12 at Brighton a few days earlier. So much it being the hippest city in Britain). He jokes about his guitar-shaped swimming pool in Leith (if you’ve never been to Edinburgh…well, just come here, go to Leith and you’ll understand why it’s funny). Hell, if the man would like one, we shouldn’t deny him it (though being Scotland it’s going to take some serious heating. We’re hardy folk but not inuits). When so many folk come here and kinda forget where they are, it’s reassuring to here someone who grew up here greeting a crowd.
The whole band are just on fire, frankly. Ruth darts about from keyboard to keyboard, and Sarah plays a mean violin that just puts most fiddlers to shame. I envy her former pupils. Ken beams behind his bass and drummer Murray seems like a perfect foil for brother Riley.
A couple of weeks ago I saw the video for latest single Hypnotised in the back of a taxi. Astute marketing from someone. The wolfboy video should be taking them to new heights. It’s a real highlight live, as is ‘Do Whatever Turns You on’ which Riley dedicates to his family allowing him and his brother to feel free growing up. This apparently included using lego to create bands that would die in car crashes, according to Scotland on Sunday. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a great story.
They finish their encore with Heliopolis by Night (my runner-up single of 2004, behind Take Me Out). As the crowd do the ‘radio ga-ga’ handclaps, it’s clear this is a classic.
Two years down, two albums out, and Aberfeldy are hitting their stride. If you never saw them before, get out there!

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