Iona Bain, Matthew Malone, The Deep Red Sky, Hiva Oa and Tanera Heights at Fest For A Fiver
Have a festival for a fiver in a basement. It's a fine idea and an excellent way to avoid the sunshine on a Saturday afternoon and those distracting thoughts of dilithium crystals. Still, a plundering of musical treasures was on the cards so on with the show…
Tanera Heights kicked things off with a pumped up set of indie rock spiced with eighties retro sounds and, fashionistas take note, a time travelling garb of white jacket and black shirt. It was a bit like Spandau Ballet and Gary Numan deciding to have a love child and putting him immediately into care just so he could get edgy enough to write songs.
Matthew Malone, on the other hand, has to be the antithesis of that with a mid-atlantic monotone driving all his songs, whether traditional or from his own pen, along at pretty much the same pace. Then an old Chinese saying came to mind - some seek anonymity and some have anonymity thrust upon them.
Definitely making their own mark however were Edinburgh band The Deep Red Sky. Strong on melody and not afraid of complexity, this four piece band demonstrated the tight commercial focus of the best Scottish indie bands and also provided ample proof that east coast bands have the advantage in musical skills. You only had to hear the steadily building magnificence of "Plans" to know that.
A different, though equally valid, kettle of fish were Hiva Oa. To hear of them is to experience an adventurous, skewed take on poetic art rock with the resulting languorous melancholy inducing a near hypnotic state. Different certainly but no less convincing for all that.
Equally compelling if in a more conventional way was Iona Bain. With the able support of her band, she danced through a set of the kind of songs that would so easily impress the cognoscenti and she had such poise that I paused to wonder if Veronica Lake had been a singer, would she have sounded like Iona Bain? Enchanting is as good a description as any of her.
Time now, as it were, for the half time break.