Photos by Sarah Dorman

It's been a while since the Edinburgh based band Meursault released their fine second album All Creatures Will Make Merry, and tonight's gig, which comes at the end of a string of dates in Europe, gives them a chance to showcase some songs from the follow-up.

Before all that though, main support Dark Captain treat us to a well received set of melodic indie-folk. It took a few songs for them to make an impact on me, but the current single 'Submarines' is hard to resist. Their folk influenced pop at times reminds me of Tuunng or the Beta Band, while on songs such as 'Long Distance Driver' their vocal harmonies evoke the Laurel Canyon acts of the 1960s and early 70s. 'Fade' continues in this vein but adds in some flute to make things even mellower. They finish with 'Robot Command Centre' from their first album, and judging by the positive audience reaction they won a few fans tonight.

Meursault are hard to describe and tricky to pin down. Even for those familiar with the band's first two albums, this gig feels like we are watching a completely new band. Tonight at their most expansive they are a 6 piece noise-rock band, and at their most minimal they are simply a solo performance by Neil Pennycook. In fact the intense bellow of Pennycook's vocal is the only common factor throughout these songs.

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As most of this set was made up of new material, I'm not so sure of a lot of the titles. I think the opening song was called 'We Moved Away' and it begins with a lot of the band singing over a squeezebox and then builds into something powerful as the other instruments are introduced. Next up, 'Mother's Arms' floats along over a wash of loud guitars and it's almost as if they are creating some sort of hybrid music, caught between shoegaze and contemporary folk. 'Hole' starts with just voice and piano and changes the mood of the entire set. Suddenly the rest of the band take a back seat while Neil's dramatic vocals take centre stage. They revisit lightly more familiar territory with 'Lament for a Teenage Millionaire' from their first album Pissing On Bonfires, Kissing With Tongues. This new version is dominated by Neil's banjo and dispenses with all the electronic bleeps and beats found on the recording. 'Dull Spark' sees the full band return in a major way, and it has bursts of noise that Mogwai or Lift to Experience would be proud of. 'One Day This'll All Be Fields' is possibly the only song that could be called a crowd-pleaser, but this version is just banjo, vocals and the thump of Neil's foot on the stage for percussion. The powerful and impressive final song is dedicated to Scottish folk guitar legend Bert Jansch who had died earlier that day, and I don't recognise it, so I can only assume that they are confident enough in their new material to actually close their set with a new song.

Meursault took a risk tonight by omitting most of their back catalogue in favour of unreleased material. For some it may have been disappointing but for me it made me look forward to the forthcoming album even more.

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Dark Captain

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