Fence’s Flamin’ Hott Loggz Anstruther Town Hall, Anstruther, Sat 5 Nov
The Shivers, Withered Hand and Serafina Steer join Bonfire Night party
There were no fireworks at Fence’s Flamin’ Hott Loggz pop ‘n’ Guy Fawkes hoopla.
There was no need for pyrotechnics when there were songs that soared like gold dust – King Creosote’s rare variation of Dexy’s ‘Come on Eileen’ around a bonfire; Serafina Steer’s gossamer-harp rendition of Morrissey’s ‘Suedehead’ to general wonder – and when there was a duo whose chemistry sparked and crackled, bright as roman candles, even if their name was The Shivers, and even if their superhot-larynxed male half, Keith Zarriello, was zipped-up to the neck throughout.
While Fence’s annual end-of-year knees-up traditionally commandeers Hallowe’en, their hijacking of November 5th made for a suitably ceremonial shindig – all the better to master a torchlit procession from Anstruther Town Hall to Cellardyke Harbour; all the better to witness the stellar helmsmen of Fence, Kenny ‘King Creosote’ Anderson and Johnny ‘The Pictish Trail’ Lynch, outshine the sparks and the stars in the sky with a glorious sing-a-long bonfire set of KC and PT favourites – ‘You’ve No Clue Do You’, ‘Not One Bit Ashamed’, ‘Words Fail Me Now’ – backed by the flickering, cardinal pulse of the lighthouse on the May Island.
Fence may be a DIY empire warmly embedded in the East Neuk of Fife, but it wraps itself around the world, so that lost-in-translation New York bagel jokes (courtesy of The Shivers onstage in Anstruther) bear the Fence hallmark – and reflect its cultural significance – as much as James Yorkston’s brilliant account of the time the Antiques Roadshow came to St Andrews.
An early highlight in this typically ace all-dayer came from London singer-songwriter / harpist Serafina Steer, an ally of John Foxx (she plays keyboards in John Foxx & the Maths) and Patrick Wolf (she added harp to his single 'The City') whose quiet, psychedelic narratives offered a raw and fragile counterpoint to the opulent harp-smithery of, say, Joanna Newsom – and Steer was all the more enchanting for it.
NY soul-rock heartbreakers The Shivers set the place alight with gorgeous odes and wry chorales from their recent Fence album, More, but the evening belonged to three Fence mainstays as Withered Hand, Kid Canaveral and King Creosote discharged rousing new material in turn. The jubilant shout-pop of Withered Hand’s forthcoming single, ‘Heart Heart’, fires Dan Willson’s outstanding indie-rock up several gears, while Kid Canaveral’s brand-new alt-rock opus, ‘The Wrench’, suggests gripping and unexpected things from the follow-up to Shouting At Wildlife.
King Creosote previewed several tracks from his forthcoming LP, That Might Well Be It, Darling, all delivered by an impressive eight-strong band that included some scorching djembe, keys and axe-work. The new material indicates that 40-odd albums into his illustrious career, the King still has several tricks up his sleeve – not least the devastating ten-minute jaw-drop that is ‘Ankle Shackles’, the likes of which we’ve never heard from Anderson before.
The free-wheeling, percussive-rock of KC’s ‘On the Night of the Bonfire’, meanwhile, sent Hott Loggz off with its very own anthem and the sense that, nigh-on 15 years into being, Fence burns brighter, and louder, than ever.