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  • Writer's pictureDanny C

Swansea Sound, Leith Depot, Leith 17-02-24


I’m not using the term Indie Royalty lightly but as lead singer Hue Williams introduced the band mid-set, to count The Pooh Sticks, Tallulah Gosh, Heavenly, Death In Vegas, The Catenary Wires, The Dentists among others bands past and present to feature the individual members of Swansea Sound that’s a pretty regal set of Indie CVs.

This was my first visit to Leith Depot for a gig, another great small Edinburgh venue, set near the foot of Leith Walk (or the Champs y Leithées as it’s also known). It’s a compact and intimate space with only room for around 70 people, which James Hackett, the lead singer of The Orchids told me at the bar after their set, he realised mid-song that his bedroom is probably bigger than the venue space. Unsurprisingly it was a sell out and packed, which raised the temperature so much there was steam coming off my jumper at one point and was off after a few songs.

I hadn’t heard much of The Orchids before, who had ventured east for the first time in over 30 years to play support, but their easy-going style and sound was a perfect start to the gig. It’s too easy to point out similarities to Orange Juice, there’s so much more to their sound than that, but if you like Edwyn Collins’ material you’ll love The Orchids. The played a few familiar sounding older tracks before (slightly nervously) introducing some new material they’ve experimented with, before heading out with the “dancin’ ones”. Based on what I heard, I’m really looking forward to new releases and more gigs. And James, since you asked the crowd to “let you know how s*** they were” - I doubt anyone would disagree with me here – you’re onto a winner with the new stuff, keep going with them and more!

It was quite a relaxed affair for Swansea Sound coming on stage as they were quite happy mingling with the audience beforehand, chatting while setting up and once ready to go, still blethering rather than making a big intro. Rob Pursey, Mike Mystery (who I was gigging with for the 3rd week in a row) and me discussing how well - or not - our various Eighties music sub-cultures were aging as we’re all growing older. Verdict: Indie – faring well as we all dressed like old men in baggy trousers, cardigans and overcoats to begin with, so already there; Mod, not so good, tight-fitting fashion is better suited to the younger ‘fitter’ crowd; Goth, winner. Growing into it perfectly.

The lack of aircon was very noticeable and commented on by Hue as the band raced effortlessly into the first few songs of their set. In between songs, there was a bit of debate about which was the best second-hand record shop on Leith Walk (two strong contenders in Elvis Shakespeare and Vinyl Villains but no clear winner) as this teed up Markin’ It Down. A few songs later some cheers welcomed the news someone was sent for to sort out the air conditioning before Hue explained the background to Far Far Away - being written about Pete Shelley [Gig-Antic fact: Pete Shelley got the inspiration for Ever Fallen In Love while watching an old black & white film in an Edinburgh Bed & Breakfast while touring].

Just before their encore someone finally came through from the bar, squeezed past the band and switched on the air conditioning (better late than never) just behind where they’d been standing sweating for the past hour and a bit. This didn’t stop them with a finale of Men In Uniform and 20th Century. Absolutely wonderful.

All in all, another great evening put on by the ever-excellent Onion Cellar Presents (thank you Stuart and Nicola), who have a few more shows lined up in Edinburgh this year and I’ve got tickets for them all already!

And a final shout out to a few guys we got chatting with afterwards about jumpers (Joe - king of the jumpers), being on stage with Belle & Sebastian (Jamie) and still holding out hope for Glastonbury tickets (Ewan, fingers crossed for you). Good chatting with you boys and keep gigging!

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Feb 21
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

First class Onion Cellar / Leith Depot gig, as usual. Two great sets from two great bands..

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