Live Reviews

  White Heath live at The Captain's Rest in Glasgow

Some venues are one single room where you have a stage and a bar. For example Pivo Pivo. Some venues are split into two, but have bars in both spaces. Think King Tuts. And then there's the Captain's Rest, which has a bar upstairs and a stage downstairs. This isn't a criticism. You can easily grab a pint between bands and not miss anything. You may miss something however, if you run into someone upstairs who isn't going back downstairs who wants to chat. If that happens you might find you miss one bands set in it's entirety (Shoes and Socks Off) and by the time you get back downstairs the room is so packed you can't even see the nights headliner (Kevin Devine). As a result of this, you will be getting one third of the intended review.

So thank fuck it was White Heath that were playing first. Worth paying 10 times the night's ticket price to see (6 quid so you know) for half an hour, we're dealing with one of my favourite bands right now. It's honesty time again folks, I've put lots of gigs on with White Heath at Pivo Pivo, and recently got them signed to the record label at my college, Electric Honey. The chances of this being a bad review were slimmer than an anorexic stick insect, but I aim to demonstrate with details that what I say is truth and not mere hyperbole.

A decent sized crowd had made their way downstairs for the start of White Heath's set, an unusual occurrence for a band on first in a split level venue. The employed their usual set up of Sean on vocals with an upturned kick drum and cymbal for percussion which he plays both gently and angrily at points in the set. The rest of the lineup uses a mixture of violin, keyboard, guitar and bongos. And then there's the bass trombone. Apparently there are comparisons with Broken Records due to the eschewing of traditional instrumentation. But just because you don't copy every other band doesn't mean you're copying another band that doesn't copy other bands. Capisce?

The set kicked off with the eerie and cinematic "Election Day". Every time I hear this song I just imagine it sound-tracking the trailer of an epic Hollywood movie. I mean that in a good way, it's just so filled with drama, and 5 guys managing to sound like an entire orchestra while also producing music that's at times minimal, moody, spectacular and emotive is to me incredible.

I won't give a song by song blow, but from here set highlights included a new song, "New Year's Day", that was so sad and beautiful I would want it played at my funeral to force people who didn't even really like me to cry, a revived "7:38am" which had seemed a bit tired at their last couple of gigs but which they now really got into practically grooving along on stage, potential Electric Honey single the gypsy-folkish "When the Watchmen Leave Their Stations" and set closer "Leviathan" which is something more akin to a classical symphony condensed to 8 minutes than an extended rock song.

The performance was, as always, stunning and the crowd seemed to agree as most songs were greeted with enthusiasm, cheering and whooping. I'm sure at one point a few people were waving lighters in the air, and I don't think they were being ironic. Well, not completely. Catch White Heath in the Captain's Rest again on the 15th January. You will not be disappointed.

Review Date: December 8 2009