Esser - Edinburgh, Corn Exchange, Thu 26th Feb 2009 (4 stars)

Esser - Edinburgh, Corn Exchange, Thu 26th Feb 2009

Perhaps the sizeable crowd that have already gathered at Edinburgh's most-loathsome-to-get-to venue, the Corn Exchange, at 7pm are here to make sure they get the perfect spot to be flicked by Ricky Wilson's sweat during Kaiser Chiefs' headlining performance. But surely there must have been more than the odd intelligent individual with a keen ear for articulate pop who decided to skip the pub pre-game or miss that episode of Coronation St. in order to get here for doors and to see the brilliant Esser?

Shaved sides and a mighty quiff on top make this 24-year-old Londoner a vision of Morrissey during an era when the former Smiths man's petulance could be put down to a pained youth, rather than the middle-aged arrogance it seems to stem from now. Tonight however, Ben Esser seems a lot happier than his lookalike, clearly enthused by the growing crowd - if still showing signs of a recent bout of phlegm.

The blue mood lighting suggests there's something sinister behind this playful front though, and there are definitely dark tones to such impeccable, educated pop as the tracks 'Satisfied' and 'Headlock'. These are songs engineered to provoke both thought and movement, combining tight, minimalist drum loops with a voice and lyric full of wit.

There's the beginning of a showman too in Esser's role, leading a set focused on rhythm and control. He's perhaps too polite, though confidence will grow with success, and his personality will soon match the energy of the music.

And no 'na na nas'! Thank God.

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