Aldous Harding @ Summerhall, Edinburgh, 1 Dec
At not long over an hour, Aldous Harding's performance tonight at Summerhall is nicely curated but leaves you wanting more
Aldous Harding likes to make the most of a silence. Entering to an immensely packed Dissection Room (following a sold out matinee show), she slowly takes a seat, starts to tune her guitar, looks around a little, tunes some more, pauses. More than a minute passes in perfect silence before she opens with a couple of solo acoustic tunes (Designer, Fixture Picture).
Harding is in typically inscrutable form throughout the night, grimacing to herself or throwing piercing looks out to the crowd, preferring to let her music do the talking. The sound is immaculate, the drums delicately understated allowing the keys/synths to dictate the rhythm alongside the guitars. Harding's voice is sometimes reminiscent of Nico (Damn) and often Joanna Newsom (The Barrel), while the dips and turns of the arrangements recall the unpredictable melodies of The Beta Band (Zoo Eyes).
Imagining My Man opens the encore, Harding quashing any requests with a gentle rebuke: “You'll get what you're given... I don't care what the other children have.” A little looser than the Designer songs that dominate the set, it shows a more easy-going approach with Harding's steely intensity even dropping for a moment. Unreleased song Old Peel ends the show in perfectly odd fashion, the straightforward dream-pop built and moulded around Harding's drumstick-on-ceramic-mug percussion and a chorus that moves smoothly from nonsense to biting: 'Old peel / No deal / I won't speak if you call me baby'.
At not long over an hour, including the lengthy pauses between songs, it feels a little slight but still nicely curated. Each movement, strum and even breath seems neatly constructed to work within this exact set. It's refreshing as compared with overstuffed marathon performances, but it's certain to leave you wanting more.