Alternative Peers' Ball @ Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 25 Nov
Django Django, Siobhan Wilson, Pictish Trail and Meursault feature at Assembly Rooms' Alternative Peers' Ball
This evening's Alternative Peers' Ball at Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms – a celebration of Scottish art (including whole wall-encompassing live visuals from the Edinburgh Projector Club), culture and music curated by a dapper Vic Galloway and inspired by Sir Walter Scott's original Peers' Ball held here in 1822 – features an eclectic bill, spanning the fresh-faced and the familiar. Siobhan Wilson – who could perhaps qualify for both categories and who recently made the The Skinny's Top 10 Scottish Albums of 2017 with There Are No Saints – reduces the cavernous Music Hall to an eerie hush with her sparse, delicate performance. Despite the early evening appearance tonight, it's clear she's considered essential viewing for virtually everyone in attendance.
Over in the next room, Man of Moon are, in comparison, like a gong to Wilson's twinkling chimes, bringing about arguably the loudest performance of the night. The Edinburgh duo sound supercharged tonight and fill every corner of the Ballroom like expanding rubber. Bathed in pink and blues and accompanied by hypnotic, trippy visuals, they're easy on the eye too, and musically, a welcome shift in gear.
An uncomfortable number of people choose to incessantly talk over Meursault's set tonight – which is actually impressive given how monstrously loud the drums are once they get going. However, Neil Pennycook – who officially returned to his much-loved former guise earlier this year with the excellent I Will Kill Again – has always had a knack for tapping into his primal emotions and tonight is made all the more powerful by the feeling that he might launch himself off the stage at any second and on to the head of the next person who lets their mundane patter filter through the gaps or more languid parts of the Meursault set.
Back over in the Ballroom, the glitter is applied in spadefuls as Pictish Trail, led by the ever-charming Johnny Lynch, set their phasers to 'fun'. It almost looks a bit Polyphonic Spree, with the hippy garb and unified cosmic imagery coming across like some kind of glee-obsessed cult, but it's a joy to watch. While most of tonight's crowd have been content with casually swaying their cans or slowly nodding with approval thus far, this is the first chance they've been given to really move. And although it takes some doing to get off the blocks, we get a few dodgy dancers by the end, hinting that there's some life in here yet.
That means it's onto tonight's headliners Django Django, and weirdly – or maybe not so much at this point – there appear to be big gaps in what one would expect to be a big enough crowd to make the security staff sweat for the first time all night. But let's not take anything away from the band, who seem like they'd give the same level of onstage intensity to a painting of a crowd, as long as you let them play. Having recently returned in advance of releasing their third album, Marble Skies, next January, the band look overjoyed to be back in action and despite a somewhat deflated vibe overall, the feeling's mutual.