NOTE to reader. This review was written in September 2017. It’s taken me until now to recover for the experiences of the night in question. Try and enjoy the trip.
Almost exactly a year ago, the former Amazing Snakes front man, Dale Barclay, announced, with the unleashing of No Way Back To lunch, that he had found his way out of music’s equivalent of the Grimm Brother’s fabled forest, carrying tales of horror and soul searing darkness, bringing in tow a new band of like-minded musicians that he had encountered on his travels, to accompany him and his partner, Laura St Jude, on a crusade to infiltrate the benign world of modern day music. The shadowy presence of this gang of musical alchemists was named And yet It Moves… and was free to roam the streets and alleyways of the big cities.
Over the past year, And Yet It Moves have been leaving a trail of broken plectrums and chipped drumsticks in there wake, as they popped up at random venues across Scotland, up and down the UK and around Europe, whilst also teasing us with a further 2 tracks in the shape of Ketamine Ma’am; an 11 minute sojourn into the murky out of focus world that AYIM have been writing into existence. Accompanied by a video which mixes image styles from Donnie Darko, True Detective and Psycho, this video enhances the atmospheric piano introduction and wildlife sounds before indulging the throat tearing primal scream therapy that breaks free two and a half minutes in; and then Make America Great Again, a darkly lit trip down the back alleys of America as witnessed from behind the dashboard of their very own hearse decrying “the demise of the family”. Then, in August this year they announced the release of their album, Free Pass To The Future and a tour to promote it. Orangerevels caught up with them at Sneaky Pete’s on the 7th September 2017. Here’s what happened.
It’s a dank night in Auld Reekie. Our route from West Lothian takes us in past the decaying high-rises of Sighthill, along Gorgie Rd with it’s Victorian sandstone buildings before we turn up past The (grave) Diggers public house. We cut across Lothian Rd and skirt the seedier side of Scotland’s capital city, before parking up in The Grassmarket. One of the oldest areas of Edinburgh and home to The Last Drop, famous for having it’s own medieval ghost and site of the last hanging in The Grassmarket. The streets are busy with tourists and locals alike, all wrapped up in anticipation of the promised rain whilst the steamy heat of an unusually warm September night makes everyone look uncomfortable. We are heading to Sneaky Pete’s in the Cowgate area at the east end of this cauldron of social interaction, to see And Yet It Moves, and, although we may look fairly relaxed, we are filled with an anticipation tinged with a touch of something that we can’t put a name to. The last time we were here to see Barclay play, we dragged a crowd of wizened old gig goers along to see “something completely different” in the form of The Amazing Snakeheads and despite being far from disappointed with that show, a few weeks later that particular incarnation was no longer . Would this band achieve the high bar levels of live performance set by The Amazing Snakeheads? Would they survive the pressures of striving for that same bar?
It’s 9pm and we approach the doorway to Sneaky Pete’s. A little further eastwards a crowd of student types gather in the covered walkway behind a colonnade of pillars, enthusiastically planning the evenings events and tomorrows excuses. The doorman waves us inside and we pass through the wooden door before showing our tickets to the tousle haired uni-lad standing behind a small surfaced but tall table which has the stage times for tonight’s bands. We hear the last few bars of the 3rd of tonight’s performers and can see that AYIM are scheduled to take to the stage at 9:30. Good timing. We approach the bar and part with some hard earned cash in exchange for a couple of bottles of Desperado lager. The final support act are in the process of disconnecting and disentangling their instruments from the on-stage monitors and amps so we move over in front of the mixing desk before spotting a free space at the end of bar, just at the entrance to the front of stage. There is a poster on a pillar that encourages us to “Move to the front. It sounds better and the bands like it.” So we do just that.
As is the way with gigs at Sneaky Pete’s, the setting up of a band on the small stage and the sound-checks are carried out with an intimacy that makes you, the anticipatory audience members, feel part of the band. And Yet It Moves are a five piece tonight, although they may have had a number of line up changes since forming and this makes for a cramped stage, with Keyboards, Bass Guitar, Rhythm Guitar and Drums all accommodated around and behind front man Dale Barclay and his guitar. Dressed in a knee length Crombie style woollen coat, over a red silk shirt, Barclay looks focussed.
Sound check over and following a quick trip to the dressing room at the back of the bar, Barclay returns with a half bottle of “tonic” in his hand, strips off his coat and places it carefully front of stage before slinging his guitar over his shoulder, slugging on his medicine and launching into Ketamine Ma’am and Bad Cops Day Off. At times unrecogniseable, as they are screamed into the mike, the lyrics suck the oxygen out of the room replacing it with the madness inducing, heavier than air, atmosphere that’s been missing from the moshpit of this old town for far too long. At this point no-one present can be under any illusion that AYIM will be performing a live replaying of the well produced, atmospheric tracks from the studio, released on line and on disc for public consumption. This is nothing short of a full frontal attack on your sensibilities. Barclay retires to the back of the stage and whilst communing with the amp located at the back of the stage behind the bass player, whispering …… who knows what black magic spells to the other side of the night. He gulps again on his rarefied wine before returning to the front of the stage to rip his red shirt off and with a serious scowl, points to those present and as the first chords of The Bitter Party are played, declares “If you’re not here to party, there’s the f@$&ing door”. The audience responds with a demonstration of moshpit etiquette not seen for many a day as Dale spews the acerbic lyrical curses of this tune forth into the blackness of room, “get off your fu#@ing knees son”, leaving nothing for the assembled audience to do other than return the favour. Second Earth Song brings with it another volley of screamed, obscenities if you judge the words by the common understanding, but this is no arena for such judgement. All here are willing participants needing to be entertained and taken into the future. AYIM are only providing the free pass.
A Dried Up Reservoir in South Korea precedes set closer Critical. A slow starter of a track where our main character of tonight’s show bemoans the frailty of love and it’s effect on those who befall it’s failure, before embarking on a stylistic cruise around everything from early Kasabian to Barclay’s previous band The Amazing Snakeheads via Depeche Mode keyboards and Kyuss drums before said drum kit is trashed. Dale Barclay then departs the stage and comes walking over in my direction squeezing past. In my euphoric state, I enthusiastically slap his back in a congratulatory gesture only to find myself face to face with the sneering front man who punches me on the chest, before turning and exiting the bar area.
“AND YET IT MOVES” is attributed to Galileo Galilei and roughly translates into “it doesn’t matter what you believe; these are the facts.” I’d be tempted to believe anything this band tells me. They certainly do.
And Yet It Moves and in particular, Dale Barclay brought a Begbie-esque swagger to one of Auld Reekie’s best venues. It’s been worth the wait.