The Unwinding Hours & Katerwaul – The Tunnels – 21/05/10
A Friday night gig gives a good reason to take the train into town and enjoy a few beers, however the choice of trains from Stonehaven means either being into Aberdeen too early or chancing that rail delays lead to missing a portion of the evening’s entertainment. So early train it was and a couple of pre-gig pints in The Moorings. The Moorings has a great arcade game with lots of ancient games so a couple of rounds of golf while having my ears sandblasted by a series of thrash metal anthems was in order. A group of people were in fancy dress – kudos to the lass dressed as Zoidberg from ‘Futurama’, unlikely she will read this but if she does – nice work!
Tonight’s gig was an Interesting Music Promotions event, and a club night after the gig means that things are running early and on-time which is good news for my desperately-waiting-for-pay-day wallet as I can make the last train home.
There’s a pretty good turnout early on so first band up, Katerwaul, have a decent audience. I’ve seen them a few times over the past couple of years and I’ve always enjoyed them, in fact I bought their first album release but haven’t got round to getting the new one yet…anytime I remember in One Up they never seem to have it.
Opening number ‘Heart of Blackened Gold’ starts with a 3 way vocal refrain before the instrumentation kicks in, the guitarist and bass player keeping the vocal line going off mic. Singer Tim has an undeniably powerful vocal style and sings like he means it. This particular song seems to be concerning itself with the evils of big business, no doubt inspired by the events earlier this week where the local council controversially voted to proceed with the Union Square Project which at present appears to mean the demise of the Union Terrace gardens – in fact, tonight’s gig has much paraphernalia around in support of the ‘I heart UTG campaign’. A later number, ‘Valley Under A Concrete Sea’, reinforces the point that they are not too chuffed at the weeks events…Katerwaul do long songs – in fact, I couldn’t believe there were only 4 songs played but when I requested a set list as a memory jogger that’s all that was listed. The overall effect is epic post-rock in the vein of Sigur Ros while the effects driven guitars recall early 90’s shoegazing bands such as Slowdive or Ride. There are shades of Mogwai in there as well. I find it quite strange how much the whole shoegazing thing has come into vogue in recent years, I remember it being much derided at the time…anyway I was a huge fan of that stuff back then so I enjoy Katerwaul, they do their variant on the formula very well and I think they have improved with each time I have seen them, they are slick and the great sound in the venue this evening does them a great service.
The Tunnels has fairly filled up by the time The Unwinding Hours take to the stage and it must be said that I don’t think I’ve seen a band rewarded with such rapt attention in a long time. They start off quietly with ‘The Final Hour’ from the self-titled album, with the single guitar and vocals commanding your attention, but when the song kicks in with the full band it’s powerful stuff. I did an interview with vocalist Craig for the site a while back and referred to the ‘mellow’ nature of the album – he seemed to take a bit of offence at the description, in my mind it was only acknowledging the quieter nature of the album in comparison to some of the screaming vocal stylings that appeared on early Aereogramme albums. – anyway, tonight’s gig is anything but mellow; the level of intensity that the songs communicate is incredible. The main set takes in the majority of album tracks before closing with album opener ‘Knut’. I will admit the evening’s beverages were starting to catch up on me by this point but I’m pretty certain the encore was a rendition of ‘Solstice’ followed by a track from the Tour CD that was on sale at the merch stand (hope folk bought one, it’s very good!), and finally an Aereogramme number which escapes me, please use the ‘leave comments’ function to keep me correct if you were there and know…
The Unwinding Hours are definitely a great live act, I think the songs really come across more powerfully than they do on the album, I hope they return at some point in the future and recommend you check them out.
This was a great night, 2 good bands, a respectful audience and lots of beer. Actually as I write this my head is only just starting to feel in better order. The only problem with catching the early train back to Stonehaven is the temptation of visiting some drinking establishments on the way home…. Godzilla Blues
The Unwinding Hours MySpace