MERCURY REV // THE CAVES, EDINBURGH

MERCURY REV CAPTIVATE THEIR AUDIENCE AT THE CAVES, EDINBURGH

MERCURY REV PERFORMING AT EDINBURGH'S CAVES - 25.04.2018
PICTURE BY: CALUM MACKINTOSH PHOTOGRAPHY

★★★★☆ 

Deserters Songs is without doubt one of the finest albums of the 90s. Given Mercury Rev’s back catalogue up until that time, the depth of the densely textured orchestral arrangements present on the LP was a surprise to everyone, including the band! The album went on to define the oeuvre of Mercury Rev for evermore and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their magnum opus, they’ve hit the road to perform the LP in full for the first time. 

As a live band, Mercury Rev have a fearsome reputation. What they lacked in raw power of performance, they’d compensate with ear bleeding volume! Thankfully on this tour it was a stripped back semi acoustic band playing the intimate setting of The Caves in Edinburgh. Core members Jonathan Donahue and Sean "Grasshopper" Mackowiak were supplemented on stage by two multi-instrumentalists and additional guitar courtesy of the evening’s support act, the very talented Layla Foy.

Starting musical proceedings was the afore mentioned Layla Foy. Her short set of folk infused songs backed up with lush, reverb-laden guitar had echoes of Daughter or Joy Formidable’s quieter moments. It was shame that too many of the intricacies in her music was largely drowned out by the murmur arriving audience. Certainly an artist worthy of further exploration.

Mercury Rev arrived and with little or no fuss, immediately launched into the opening bars of ‘Funny Bird’. Donahue’s vocal was something to behold - each verse drawing you in further. Although an ‘acoustic’ set, the array of effects pedals in front of Grasshopper suggested otherwise and it wasn’t long before he was coaxing beautiful textured layers from his guitar.

The band clearly enjoyed the intimate setting and took time out between songs to give us some insight into their history and the making of the album. It was a lovely addition to the overall experience. 

As they progressed through the set, Donahue presented a hypnotic presence on stage, the combination of arcing arm movements and trademark wide staring eyes, he had the audience hanging on his every word and gesture. Stripped back to the bare bones, the intricacies of the songs were given a renewed chance to shine through.

Midway through the set we were introduced to legendary 70s folk singer Vashti Bunyan who joined the band for a rendition of her own ‘Just Another Diamond Day’. 

‘Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp’ followed ‘Endlessly’ and the wonderful ‘Holes’. The set closer was the epic ‘The Dark Is Rising’ which finished with a crescendo that you felt couldn’t be bettered. But then they hadn’t played ‘Goddess on a Hiway’. 

It didn’t take long before the encore saw our wish granted. The opening line of ‘Well, I got us on a highway and I got us in a car…’ was the last I heard of the band as they were drowned out by a mass sing along. Leaving us with the final refrain ‘And I know it ain't gonna last ..’ repeated en masse as the band left the stage.

SETLIST - | MERCURY REV - THE CAVES, EDINBURGH - 25.04.2018

  • The Funny Bird

  • Tonight It Shows

  • Peaceful Night

  • Hudson Line

  • Here (Pavement cover)

  • Just another diamond day (with Vashti Bunyan)

  • Endlessly

  • Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp

  • Holes

  • Opus 40

  • The Dark Is Rising

ENCORE:

  • Goddess on a Hiway

MERCURY REV'S UPCOMING TOUR DATES:

REVIEW + PHOTOS BY: CALUM MACKINTOSH PHOTOGRAPHY

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