Broken Records – Live at the Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh, Saturday 28th March 2009

Broken Records

Broken Records may play bigger, better, sweatier gigs than this in the future – in fact I’d be fucking amazed if they don’t – but I am not sure they’ll play many more special to their grass-roots fans.  There is a real sense of goodwill about the band at the moment – they’ve signed to one of the best indie labels in the world, they’ve just finished their debut album, the hard slog of the festival season is yet to take hold, so it felt to me like band and fans alike were able to take a moment just just enjoy the current circumstances.  Although, as their lead singer and main songwriter Jamie said to me in a brief aftershow interview, the real work is only just beginning.

The sense  of occasion was hugely helped by the amazingly atmospheric surroundings of the Bedlam Theatre, so nice that Broken Records were happy to run the show at a loss, just to make for a special gig.  It worked.  The photos which decorate this review were taken by Nic Rue, one of Edinburgh’s most talented photographers.  I may not be a professional judge, but how she remains an amateur at this is beyond me.  Her set of pictures from this gig can be found on Flickr, here, and is truly exceptional.  But if you look at the rest of her work you’ll see that it’s no one-off.  She really, really is that good.

Those pictures should give you some idea of the atmosphere of this show.  The band themselves have been touring these songs for over a year now, for the most part, and they know them inside out.  What they seem to have mastered in their live performances is managing to find a way to be  at once tight as hell, and yet to deliver a show full of crazed energy.  Maybe it’s Jamie’s burgeoning Messiah Complex (yes, he’ll kill me for that, but all the truly memorable front men have it to some extent), maybe it’s the sheer capability of their musicianship, but they really do sound simultaneously completely under control and as if they’re within an inch of going of the rails.

It’s all-seated in the Bedlam but, to the considerable detriment of my efforts to film the show (thanks) everyone was on their feet after a couple of songs.  It’s just that kind of music and was very much that kind of performance.

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Of course we have no idea whether their career trajectory will go entirely according to plan, but if they continue at their current rate then this may be the last time for a while that they can get away with playing a venue this small.  In many ways that was what was so nice about the show.  It was extremely intimate for such a racous band, and you ended up beaming at your fellow audience members at being one of so few to share the fun.

It has been mentioned in the comments section of this site in the past that Broken Records sometimes play their shows at full throttle and somewhat neglect the quieter songs in their repertoire, and that in doing so they don’t quite capture the emotional rise and fall that they might be able to.  It’s a very valid point, and something this set list did brilliantly.  Quieter songs like Out on the Water and Lessons Never Learnt were used really well here, just calming everyone down before the absolutely thunderous climax and post-coital cigarette of final twosome One Good Reason and Slow Parade.

Including songs like Out on the Water and Lessons Never Learnt doesn’t just give the set more emotional variation, it’s also intruguing for a crowd very well-versed in their back catalogue to hear them.  It gives us a chance to hear something unusual, which brings an anticipation of its own.  This is one of the real treats of live music for grass-roots fans, who tend to have seen their favourite bands a great many times, and find this sort of surprise a real treat.

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So, honestly, I haven’t enjoyed a gig this much in fucking ages.  It was bordering on euphoric – big, thunderous, elated music.  What a fucking blast.  Just as they seemed to be slowing down towards the end of 2008, Broken Records suddenly look like they could have an absolutely amazing 2009.

Broken Records – If Eilert Loevborg Wrote a Song it Would Sound Like This
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/sbt/IfEilertLoevborgWroteASongItWouldSoundLikeThis.mp3]

Broken Records – Nearly Home (Demo)
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/sbt/BrokenRecords-NearlyHome.mp3]

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