Gig review: Emma Pollock/Wake The President
Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire, December 18, 2007
I have mentioned many times just how much I love Emma Pollock’s work. Having topped the second ever 17 Seconds’ Festive Fifty with ‘Adrenaline’, I went with Mrs. 17 Seconds and sister-in-law to see her for my fourth time this year, and the third time in this very venue.
Previous support acts to Emma Pollock this year have included Broken Records and Katie Sutherland. I don’t know whether she personally picks them or not, but Wake The President are winners too, who like the two afore-mentioned acts I intend to feature again here at 17 Seconds. From their opener ‘I Should Be So Happy’ it is clear that here are a band who channel the spirit of the Fire Engines, early Orange Juice and most strongly of all, Josef K. Acknowledging this, their penultimate song tonight is a faithful and affectionate cover of Josef K’s ‘It’s Kinda Funny.’ They have released two 7″ singles on Electric Honey (the record label in Glasgow run by Stow College that most famously put out Belle & Sebastian’s debut, Tigermilk, back in 1996) – ‘Sorrows For Clothes/Mail Alice’ and ‘Remember Fun?’ all of which get an airing tonight -and which they have said they are happy for me to post here. Other songs played include ‘Professor’ ‘You Can’t Change This Boy’ and ‘Security Place’ the latter which is dedicated to Malcolm Middleton. By the end of their short set, it’s clear that this is a band we will be hearing more from in 2008.
One of Emma Pollock’s many endearing features is that she doesn’t take herself seriously, and instead of throwing a rock star strop when there is an immediate technical hitch, laughs and tells to do what we were doing a moment before. The show starts properly with ‘If Silence Means That Much To You.’ She thanks us for coming out and confesses that she hates shopping, especially when that place is Braehead [a very soulless shopping mall on the west side of Glasgow]. We get ‘Acid Test’ and ‘New land’ which has taken on a delicious country twang live. This is the third time she has played Cabaret Voltaire this year, but actually the first since Watch the Fireworks was released, so now the songs are better known, and played by her fans. Many of those her tonight were Delgados fans, but the only reference she makes to her time in Scotland’s greatest ever band is saying that it’s been much easier touring with this band than ‘that other lot!’
Having played the album repeatedly, these songs are now firmly lodged in my brain, and over the course of the evening we get all eleven songs, plus ‘Jesus On The Cross’ the track she collaborated with Louise Welsh for the Roddy Woomble-assembled Ballads Of The Book. ‘Adrenaline’ still literally gets the, um, adrenaline, running, from the moment that keyboard riff kicks in and ‘Limbs’ still melts this old heart no matter how many times I’ve heard it played live this year. The e-bowed guitaron album closer ‘The Optimist’ is one of the finest, most atmospheric moments I have experiences this year. After an encore of ‘You’ll Come Around’ it’s out into the night. Thanks for soundtracking my year, Ms. Pollock, and another fantastic gig.