Live review: Johnny Reb, Edinburgh School For The Deaf at Nice n’ Sleazy 13/5/11

Tonight’s show is a fairly low-key affair, after a brief set from The Amazing Snakeheads, whose erratic style results in two broken guitar strings, a broken guitar strap and rather impressive bass and drum duet ‘Cold Woman, Warm Beer’, Edinburgh School for the Deaf take to the stage.

The Edinburgh-based four piece, who are celebrating the release of their new single ‘Orpheus Descending’/‘Orpheus Ascending’ and the upcoming release of their debut album, New Youth Bible, in June, hit the stage in an explosion of static and reverb. Their raw sound suits the Sleazy’s basement perfectly, and although the sweet vocals of lead vocalist, Ashley, are drowned out to begin with the instrumental clamour creates a strange unexpected harmony.

As well as their new single the band play the lovely ‘Of Scottish Blood and Symphonies’, the small room giving the song a completely different, much more unrefined sound, and ‘13 Holy Crowns’ with the deep male vocals, from Kieran, much more prominent above the continuing distortion. The set ends with a build-up of chords and a snare drum on the dance floor, a fittingly intense end to the Edinburgh School for the Deaf’s performance that is appreciated by a cheering crowd.

The headline act of the evening is local boys Johnny Reb, still riding high on the release of album The Portugal Years in April with featured none other than Boz Boorer, Morrissey’s recent guitarist. The band’s unique sound is easily recognised by their catchy guitar tunes and upbeat drums, even on their softer songs, and their set proves to be a cheery one, in clear contrast with the atmospheric stylings of the support.

‘Emile (Part One)’ is a define crowd pleaser, which had even those sitting down paying attention, and despite the small audience the basement is filled with tapping feet. It’s a short but sweet set, just half a dozen cheerful tunes, but the crowd are satisfied and the relaxed atmosphere fits nicely with Johnny Reb’s style.

As the gig finishes and the bands mingle with the crowd it highlights what a personal gig this is, and despite the relatively low turnout the applause at the end shows the appreciation of Johnny Reb’s distinctive sound.

Words: Katherine Haig
Photos: Ka Man Hung



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