Gig review: Broken Records/Sparrow and the Workshop


Picture courtesy of Dylan. Many thanks for letting me use this!

Broken Records/Sparrow and the Workshop, Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh, August 28, 2010.

It’s been a while since I was at the Liquid Rooms. The venue has just opened after refurbishment following the fire in Christmas 2008, which badly burnt the restaurant upstairs and the ensuing water damage affected the Liquid Rooms. But it’s great to see one of Edinburgh’s best venues up and running once more, a place where I have been more times than I can count in the nine years since I moved to Edinburgh, seeing many great acts as support and headliners: Aberfeldy, Hundred Reasons, Cooper Temple Clause, The Rakes, British Sea Power, Franz Ferdinand, Sons & Daughters, Glasvegas…

…and it’s fitting that I should be here with my wife watching Broken Records. By my calculations, it’s the sixth time I’ve seen them, three years to the month since Mrs. 17 Seconds and I saw them supporting Emma Pollock at Cabaret Voltaire. Then they were unsigned, now they are a headline act, about to release their second album on the mighty 4AD.

First up, the support act are the wonderful Sparrow and the Workshop. The Glasgow-based three-piece issued a fine debut in Crystals Fall in April and I hope to see them live again very soon. Interviewing Belfast-born, Chicago-raised singer Jill O’Sullivan a few months ago, she talked very warmly of the Edinburgh music scene. She told me how she met drummer Nick whilst stayiong in London and feeling lonely in London. I’m sorry she had such a miserable-sounding time there for the sounds of it, but grateful that this three-piece have come together to produce such brilliant music. It’s clear that the band are hugely grateful to Broken Records for taking them out on tour the first time. Their country-spaghetti-western feel (and I mean that as a compliment) wins the crowd over, with songs like ‘Crystals’ and ‘Into The Wild.’

Broken Records’ lead singer Jamie Sutherland talks about tonight as being a ‘happy sad occasion.’ Sad, in the sense that Gill Dave ‘Gill’ Fothergill is leaving for ‘pastures new’ (or returning to the world of work, depending on which source you find on google!) and ‘cellist Arne Kolb is returning to Germany for ‘reasons of love.’ So it’s an emotion-packed show, which is utterly, utterly euphoric. The set is interspersed with tracks from the new album Let Me Come Home and the record of of last year, Until The Earth Begins To Part. Jill O’Sullivan adds her bewitching vocals to one track which is one of those moments.

And over a year since the release of their debut record, still it weaves its’ magic. Mrs. 17 Seconds woke up early to listen to it this morning. I sat down to play it before lunch again. It’s still so sweet and fresh. Jamie dedicates ‘Wolves’ to Graeme from the Kays Lavelle for coming to see them and not Phoenix. (No contest, certainly not in this house.) Arne’s ‘cello on ‘If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song It Would Sound Like This’ is described as being his finest hour with the band, and it most certainly is. Debut single ‘If The News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It’ and album opener ‘Nearly Home’ threaten to bring the roof off all over again.

They encore with a version of ‘Slow Parade’ which is more Buckley-esque than the album version (both Buckleys, since you ask). And we walk home, still on a high the next morning.

To download ‘A leaving Song’ from the forthcoming sign up for the mailing list here.

Broken Records -‘Until the Earth Begins To Part.’ mp3

Sparrow and the Workshop -‘The Gun.’ mp3

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