Despite being a bit of a Grinch, and generally trying my damnedest to avoid all things Christmas, Nieves now annual festive show is an exception to the rule, and an emerging tradition I can totally get on board with.
After spending the best part of an hour ensnared in less than festive Friday night traffic I’m disappointed to have missed tonight’s first support act Jack James, who gets added to the bucket list for next year (because if the Nieves lads rate him he’ll be worth checking out).
I am however, just in time for Kyle Burgess, front man for Perth-based indie rock outfit We Came from Wolves, who tonight is stepping out of his comfort zone and playing a solo acoustic set, featuring pared-back versions of tracks from the band’s self-titled debut album.
More indie than rock this evening, Burgess confesses that he’s not sure how well this experiment will work, as Wolves’ material tend to be “fast, loud and power chord-y”.
It’s safe to say that despite his reservations the stripped-back set is a total pleasure, and after rattling through a number of album tracks, Burgess takes a moment to introduce We Came from Wolves new Christmas charity single ‘Better Than This’, a reworked version of ‘I Need Something’, which the band have released to help fundraise for Perthshire homelessness charity CATH; a cause well deserving of support.
With a massive gig supporting Fatherson in Middlesbrough lined up for early in the New Year, and their debut album in the pipeline, 2017 is shaping up to be a big year for Nieves, who have evidently been working their arses off on new material over the last few months.
The band kick off tonight’s headline set with previously un-played track ‘Predator’ before settling into well established ‘Black Tie’, an insightful, brutal rendering of the emotional turmoil experienced after the death of a loved one.
Incongruously, given the always dark nature of Nieves’ song writing, tonight’s stage is bedecked with tinsel, and frontman Brendan Dafters is sporting a rather fetching Santa hat, which in no way detracts from the fact that this is a band unafraid to tackle the grittiest of subject matter.
‘Dove’, released earlier this year, makes an excellent recent addition to the band’s live repertoire, and thanks to a belter of a chorus, combined with the now trademark interplay being Herre de Leur’s impeccable keys and Ross Forsyth’s considerable skills on percussion, even sees some guys slow-motion headbanging down the front.
After a brief comedic interlude whilst the band strong-arm guitarist Martin Murray into a pink My Little Pony Christmas T-shirt (who knew that was even a thing?), they launch into the world’s best, most miserable Christmas song.
Featuring lyrics “this year has been a bastard/ twelve months crawling on the floor”, ‘The Cure’ is surely on par with The Pogues for seasonal wretchedness.
One of the band’s many talents is their uncanny knack for communicating genuine emotion, without ever appearing trite.
This is particularly evident in ‘Broken Oars’; the storytelling of everyday tragedy, the type that affects us all, both horribly relatable and oddly comforting.
The final third of tonight’s set shifts focus towards new material, sharper and edgier than previous offerings, and no less scrupulously fashioned.
Coming with the caveat that “the words, music and names will probably all change” the band treat the now hooked crowd to three massive tracks, the last of which, as yet untitled, in particular piques my interest.
Despite declaring that if he drums too hard he’ll hit the really very low ceiling, Forsyth holds nothing back as an epic, monster of a drum intro drives the track forward; and, at its’ conclusion, when asked if they reckon that this one should make it on to the album, the answer from the crowd is a resounding yes.
Percussion continues to set the tone, as the band segue into gorgeous final track ‘Empty Book’ to end the evening on a high note… pun very much intended.
Words: Kat McNicol