Broken Records, Jesus H Foxx
Helen Newbery 17/08/2008
There's a palpable feeling of expectation from the Edinburgh crowd as local heroes Broken Records take to the stage. Given that there are seven members in the band, this takes more time than usual, with band members coming on one by one, playing all the while, so that the opening song builds and builds, layer on layer, until the distinctive violin intro to Start Again kicks in. And after you've heard it once you feel as if you've always known it, as the other instruments gradually coalesce into a powerhouse of sound which seems to swirl around the room. The lyrical treats on offer are just as rich, and tonight they seem prescient: let's have a big idea, for here are clearly a band with ideas to spare.
This impressive opener is followed by the equally catchy If the News Makes You Sad Don't Watch it”, the first song from their debut EP. With a similar combination of heart stopping melody and lush instrumentation, it's a real winner live. This quality is maintained throughout their set: there are very few lulls, and almost every song could hold its head high as a single. As such, it feels almost like a Greatest Hits set; not bad for a band at this stage in what will hopefully be a long career. However, they are also unafraid to try out new material, such as a yet untitled song - tell us what you think and we'll ignore it - we're like that, they declare. This underlines the Broken Records approach, they very much plough their own furrow; unafraid, for example, to release a single with a trumpet solo in the middle of it.
There's something rather folksy about them with assorted instruments including violin, harmonium, cello and piano all making appearances. Many of the band members are multi-instrumentalists, and as singer Jamie, ever the affable host, says, the instrument swapping gets pretty stupid. And although they have always been accomplished musicians, their exhaustive festival appearances this year have clearly led to them sharply honing their craft.
For once it's a compliment to say that it's difficult to pick out particular songs as highlights. Although new(ish) song Wolves, with its militaristic drums overlaid by a haunting melody, is a firm candidate, the accolade should probably go to crowd favourite and rattling good tune A Good Reason. It feels as if the evening has been building toward this moment, and it would have formed the perfect end to an almost dream set, if it was not followed by what already feels like the traditional set-closer of the bittersweet Slow Parade. As the band leave the stage to unheeded clamours for more, it is clear that they will not be playing venues of this size for much longer.