Scars, TV 21 and Malcolm Ross set for Edinburgh date
HMV Picturehouse bill unites luminaries of Edinburgh post-punk scene
When twinkly electronic pranksters Lemon Jelly played Edinburgh’s Usher Hall a few years ago to promote their new 64-95 album, some younger audience members may have been puzzled. At the end of the set, a trio of guitar, bass and drum-wielding gents of a certain age took to the stage to play the more abrasive parts of album standout ‘79 aka the Shouty Track’. Said parts were in fact sampled from ‘Horrorshow’, the debut single by Edinburgh’s missing-in-action post-punk fabulists, Scars. The trio on stage were three quarters of the original band.
Released on Bob Last’s Fast Product label, original home of The Human League, The Mekons and Gang of Four, ‘Horrorshow’ was the perfect introduction to a band who combined brash, chimingly melodramatic guitars with the poetic swagger of singer Robert King. Scars subsequent 1981 album, Author! Author! should have helped them cross over to major label greatness following front page music press acclaim, two John Peel sessions and an appearance on BBC 2’s music-for-grown-ups TV show, The Old Grey Whistle Test. As it turned out, however, that was the last sighting of all four Scars together. Until now, that is. After almost 30 years, one of the great missing links of post-punk reunite for a one-off festive headline gig to show the hordes of latter-day guitar bands how it’s done.
‘I was 16,’ guitarist Paul Mackie, remembers of the band he formed in 1977, ‘and all the bands in Edinburgh then seemed quite American influenced. We were determined to do something that was consciously different from that.’
They have long been hailed as an inspiration by fellow travellers Davy Henderson and Paul Haig, of Fire Engines and Josef K respectively; Author! Author! was finally released on CD two years ago; and they have a session lined up for 6 Music’s Marc Riley show. All this means the return of Scars – to acknowledge the move of veteran record emporium Avalanche to the Grassmarket – looks very much like vindication. ‘I aways thought we were underrated,’ Mackie admits, ‘and I still don’t hear anybody now sounding like us. But it still feels like payback. It’s not like we’re going round high-fiving each other, but we’re quietly satisfied.’
HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Wed 29 Dec