Eagleowl - Limbo at Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Wed 1 Jun 2011 (4 stars)

Eagleowl - Limbo at Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Wed 1 Jun 2011

Optimism and sadness in new set by elegiac Edinburgh ‘post-folk’ band

There was an equal sense of optimism and sadness fighting at the core of this almost entirely new set by elegiac Edinburgh ‘post-folk’ band Eagleowl. So quiet and deliberate was their music, so achingly hesitant about tipping over into full-blown, Arcade Fire style folk-rock, that they conjured an utterly resonant feeling of regret and doomed ambition. They’re like Fleetwood Mac if the relationship splits had come before the fame and they’d just decided to give up on life.

That might be a little glib, and it’s not to do down the immaculate playing and songwriting skills of guitarists Bartholemew Owl and Malcolm Benzie, and double bass player Clarissa Cheong (the cellist, Hannah Shepherd and drummer, Owen Williams flitting on and off stage had apparently been ‘drafted’). In the absence of all but one scrawled setlist onstage which wasn’t even in order, we must refer to their songs by name: highlights were the whispering, mirage-like opener which began with the barbed lyric ‘we can’t do this any more’; the tribute to Canadian collaborator Woodpigeon in ‘Eagleowl Versus Woodpigeon’; the one with the surprisingly arch ‘it’s so funny how we don’t fuck any more’ line (‘sorry about the awkward sweary bits,’ noted Cheong); and the tumultuous instrumental finale which slammed into life mere seconds from the end. Although the benefits of an attentive audience were clear here, there’s no disputing they’re an extraordinary band.

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