Camera Obscura, Attic Lights

Alisha Ahmed 23/04/2009

What is the deal with Glasgow? No, really. What are Glaswegians fed with? Is it something like music sheets they have in their milk even before they have learnt how to talk? I wouldn't be surprised if that actually were so. This city has nurtured so many musical talents it has almost set a standard for art development.

So given this prologue, are Camera Obscura worth a fight? Well maybe… I almost got into one because of how much I really, really wanted to see them live. Considering that on Thursday 23rd April they were playing at the O2 Empire in Shepherd's Bush, I had to go around and see what all the fuss was about.
Their fourth album My Maudlin Career has just been release on April 20th and so far has been given the highest praises and marks any of their albums ever received (Pitchfork gave it an outstanding 8.3/10) and it was partly showcased at the Empire show. Although, as ninety per cent of the crowd was clearly made out of hardcore Camera Obscura fans (the amount of shirts and lyrics knowledge around the crowd left me pretty confident about this percentage) they didn't skip a general overview of their previous work as well.

They were supported by one of my favourite discoveries of 2008, which I had great expectations for: Attic Lights. When I found them among a pile of CDs that were all so indie I was about to turn to listening to white noise just to experience a change, but they stood out as a breath of fresh air. Bring Me Down is based around Beach Boys sounds and multi-layered harmonized vocals which deserved to be crowned as one of my favourite summertime tunes of 2008. And no surprise about the link to Camera Obscura as one of the Bring me Down edits was courtesy of the Glaswegian band.

So nearly a year on, I got my chance to see them performing live, and they didn't disappoint. I had missed seeing a relatively young band connect so well with a crowd, let alone someone else's crowd in the status of a support act. And yet Kevin Sherry's enthusiastic character was so infectious by the end of their set they had the full approval and support of Camera Obscura fans.

When Camera Obscura came on stage my attention was wholly fixed on Tracyanne Campbell's stage presence. She looked so serious it would have been nearly intimidating, but thankfully that feeling was taken away the moment she started to interact with her crowd. She does it in a very low-profile style, and she doesn't take fans for granted. Their post-war European feeling is brought around in their show as well as in their music. It's in the old style bass guitar, the waistcoats, the long black sparkly dress and the low-healed shoes. And I can't begin to tell how long it had been since I could hear an actual trumpet being played during a gig. It all left me with an ecstatic out-of-time smile on my face.

Am I easily impressed? No, I just skip writing about what I don't find interesting enough to like. And in the end yeah, experiencing a live show by Camera Obscura might be worth a fight… You don't get the chance to jump into such time wormholes very often.