Christmas Songwriters Club (2014) (4 stars)

Christmas Songwriters Club (2014)

Festive spirit and great tunes fill new location for an evening with some of Edinburgh's best

Stop Christmas right there, because the best seasonal hit you’re not likely to hear again in your life has been written. Apologising for the ‘disaster’ that apparently was his Christmas Songwriters Club appearance back in 2010 (‘I got pissed a little too early…’) Eagleowl’s Bart Owl decided to ‘take Christmas back to its roots’ with ‘the greatest Christmas story ever told.' That’s Die Hard, told from the perspective of its location, Nakatomi Plaza.

And so, we were treated to seasonal lines like ‘why is it okay to tell your life story on a police radio to a cop you’ve never met?’ and ‘if you shoot all the bad guys your ex-wife will see you in a new light’ and ‘you’ve taken off your socks, that’s not ideal.’ This solo piece of acoustic whimsy kind of stole the show, but it wasn’t the only good thing about this typically excellent traditional Christmas jolly where the participants riff on their own specially-written festive songs, this year relocated to the Methodist Central Hall just off Tollcross after outings at Leith Dockers Club and the Queen’s Hall.

A word or two is worth being said about the venue here, because the location was excellent, a grand but strangely intimate space with a curved balcony which was great for this bunch of acoustic segments. The ambience is obviously more formal, but it’s a space which suggested it should be used for the right kind of show, and that larger-scale ones than this could be contained within.

The line-up gathered together a bunch of Edinburgh’s current best, with a selection so packed over three and a half hours that well-established favourites Book Group, Discopolis and TeenCanteen were over barely an hour into the show. On a night with its own Christmas jumper contest (the woman in the Christmas tree dress won, we believe), the latter turned up in festive red and green dressed with a new song called ‘Christmas Eve Alone’.

On either side of the interval, there were strong sets from The Heartland Flyers, a stoic outfit playing Scots bluegrass with a song called ‘Santa Claus is Taking Christmas Off This Year’ in their roster, and The Lonely Together, a kind of jolly Echo and the Bunnymen in matching bear and animal hats who sing a ‘love story about Edinburgh’ called ‘Hometown Christmas’. After this came the (in)famous Eagleowl slot, which was actually a short joint affair with Neil ‘Meursault’ Pennycook as he appears now – calling himself Supermoon and playing typically full-voiced and slightly unnerving songs about being stuck in Amsterdam for Christmas and finding solace in booze and prostitution.

Bearing the enviable introduction ‘ladies and gentlemen, Christmas's John McIntosh’, the penultimate act played cheery and authentic folk in his seventh consecutive appearance at CSC, while Broken Records were low on apparent seasonal theme, the words kind of getting lost in the volume, but high in rich, dramatic rock which saw the entire crowd on their feet for the first time.

Review is from the event at Central Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 20 Dec.

Christmas Songwriters' Club

A night of original festive songs (no covers) from a mixed line-up of Scotland's indie and singer-songwriter talent including TeenCanteen, Book Group, Supermoon, Al Shields, Broken Records, Discopolis, Ella the Bird, The Lonely Together and Richy Carey. Plus a pop up bar and cafe, raffle and stalls all donated to local…

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