Livesciences, Glenfiddich Independent Mix, Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Mar 2

It's rare to witness the birth of a legend<br/>STRAIGHT TO WEB PLEASE ALEX

Article by Bram Gieben | 16 Apr 2006
Before this gig, I met Joe Seal, vocalist with Livesciences, in the crowd. I made the usual small chit-chat about album releases, new bands, friends in common, but Joe was looking at me with an openness and intensity that made the words dry up in my mouth. When you speak, Joe actually listens - so if you have nothing in particular to say, it's best not to bother him. This man is an open book, and although he listened intently, I knew I was just gasping for air. Next time I speak to Joe, I'm going to say something meaningful - to do otherwise would be a waste. His attention is too generously given to fritter away on small talk, I thought to myself, and went to the bar - but his supernatural sensitivity was to be the decisive factor in the barnstorming show to follow.

Roughly six months on from the release of their debut album 'Bohemian Raps', Livesciences continue to grow and change with each performance, improving on a recipe which is already tight, fresh, and effortlessly exuberant. Walking into Cabaret Voltaire this evening, the audience could have had only a small inkling of the magnitude of the performance they were about to experience from Edinburgh's finest live band. Supporting Gilles Peterson at the Glenfiddich Independent Mix was always going to be a special night, and the crowd were nice and liquored-up with free Glenfiddich cocktails by the time the Joe Acheson Quartet finished their dark, edgy set.

Livesciences took to the stage, Ben Seal exchanging hushed jokes with brother and front-man Joe AKA J-Seal. Chris Hall AKA B-Burg beamed out from behind his Rickenbacker (apologies Chris, I probably got that wrong!), while Red 6 warmed up the decks for the show. Richard Worth took the stage with flute in hand, and the boys launched into an up-tempo, funk-popping rendition of Organ Grinder. Throughout, J-Seal crackled with the energy of a jazz soloist, applauding the other band members and shaking his hips. Organ Grinder and a later rendition of War Parts 1 & 2 already sound like classics, every note played with a free-flowing precision that is mind-blowing to witness.

Although their debut is barely six months old, the band have been playing together on and off for five years: all are highly accomplished session players, and it shows. Ben and Joe are the core of the band, sharing a rhythmic understanding that binds his free-jazz vocalisms to tight bass signatures. These weave in and out of the delicate flourishes of B-Burg's guitar, the strong gusts of melody from Richard Worth's flute, and the sharp stabs from Red 6 on the turntables. The lyrics of their new tunes seemed to showcase a more locked-in, traditional hip-hop style from J-Seal, with some Ragga cadences almost audible, and were received with the same rapture as the album tracks.

On the evidence of these new songs, his writing has been tightened up without losing any of its' directness. That is the chief weapon in Livesciences' arsenal, and tonight it was used to devastating effect - J-Seal has an emotional connectivity and brilliance which shines from him when he is on stage. His lyrics are clearly audible above the crisp music of his band, and unique in that they are emotional, fraught, insightful, delicate but immensely strong. His performance tonight was transcendental - one of those 'you had to be there' shows - with Heroes' chorus ("Livesciences say be yourself") sounding like a group exorcism of negative vibes, new tune Sons & Daughters ripping tears from more than one eye (a hip-hop tune that makes you cry... astounding), and chaotic freakout Happy Sad Confused taking the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions. Throughout it Joe stood there, clear-eyed, speaking directly into the minds of his listeners, advocating honesty, realness, his heart pinned to his sleeve, his brother beside him. Singing for his mother, singing for his confusion and his clarity, singing just for you (or so it seemed to this reviewer).

The crowd were delirious throughout, demanding an encore which the band eagerly provided. At the end Joe thanked everyone for what had been: "... an important gig." More important than he could know - this gig marked the transition from local heroes to true scene players. If Livesciences are not filling Barrowlands-sized venues by the end of the year I will eat my journalist's hat. On the strength of tonight's performance, I have no reservations in saying Livesciences are the best band in Scotland right now - fuck Franz Ferdinand, fuck Belle & Sebastian. Their art-school posing and fey, detached wistfulness are nothing to the incandescent passion displayed by the 'Sciences. With all the copies of their debut now sold via their distributor, major label interest should soon be beckoning, so watch this space, and catch the band now while they are still a local phenomenon. It's rare to witness the birth of a legend - and that's how tonight felt. [Bram Gieben]