Album launch, Cabaret Voltaire, Sat 10 Apr
Tonight feels like a showcase of just how versatile Meursault are as a band. That and a big, fuzzy, congratulatory Edinburgh indie scene hug.
After the hottest day in Edinburgh for a long time, as many people as the Cabaret Voltaire will hold have piled sweatily in to listen to All Creatures Will Make Merry, an album that, even in its less bleak moments, is unmistakably the product of an icy Scottish winter. But the atmosphere is far from bleak: maybe it was the collective glow of several hundred sunburnt bodies, but more likely that buzz in the air was the palpable sense of excitement emanating from the sold out crowd.
This is the unveiling of a record everyone present is hoping (at least in the less selfish part of their brain that knows what is right and proper) will propel the Edinburgh band onto a wider stage. They play the album in its entirety, the first notes of each song greeted with reverential pin-drop silence by a crowd desperate to suck up every little quirk of this rich, unpredictable sound.
Without ever seeming too try-hard, Meursault have got all bases covered here – from those fizzing, sputtering laptop electronics so familiar from some of the last album’s most head-turning moments - in evidence here on ‘Crank Resolutions’ - to the bare loveliness of Neil Pennycook singing alone with a guitar on ‘Weather’ (these days with just enough added cello), to the next song, ‘One Day This’ll All Be Fields’, when the configuration on stage changes yet again and the rest of the band become a backing choir for a ‘ghost story’ that’s frankly more anthemic than haunting. A couple more songs and it’s time for ‘New Ruin’, a thudding, epic howl full of swirling folk-rock strings and squalling feedback. It’d probably be doing them a disservice to call this Meursault’s Runrig moment, but the comparison is oddly fitting, and no matter – the point is, this is music that’s meant to be played somewhere much bigger than this.
And it almost certainly soon will be. Even by the time Meursault next play these songs in Edinburgh, many of those listening will have spent hours getting to know All Creatures, the slightly disarming expectant silence of the crowd will be gone, and those first night nerves will be far away. Song, by Toad Records sold out of copies of All Creatures Will Make Merry tonight; when it was over, people were either queuing patiently to buy one, refusing to believe that that had really been 11 songs, or just grinning stupidly.
Meursault play as part of This is Music’s 4th Birthday celebrations on Fri 21 May at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh.