Callum Easter @ Leith Depot, Edinburgh, 3 Feb
Callum Easter mesmerises a sold out Leith Depot crowd as part of Independent Venue Week
There’s a sort of poetic justice in the fact that plans to demolish the Leith Depot and its neighbours were unanimously rejected during Independent Venue Week. A palpable sense of triumph greets us as we walk up the stairs to Callum Easter’s sold out IVW contribution. You couldn’t really ask for a better backdrop to an already promising night.
Before Easter gets up on stage, we're treated to a spoken word performance from Rodney Relax. Relax’s set supports the tone of the room: it’s defiant, gritty and daring. Time-hopping verses paint pictures of other worlds, old and new, with turns of phrase that are at times intensely political, at others quietly introspective. His final piece, Goodbye England, garners the energy of the room with a fierce anti-Brexit, anti-establishment tone that is met with raucous applause. The stage is set.
After a brief interlude, soundtracked by Callum Easter’s record collection, our main act steps onto the stage. He looks briefly up at his audience before the first chords of Lonely World instantly mesmerize the room. It’s not every day that you come across a musician whose primary accompaniment is an accordion amplified by a subwoofer, but the effect is remarkable. Even more so than on record, the combination of Easter’s voice, his accordion, and backing synths create a depth of sound that bends the possibilities of what a single musician can achieve.
From this point on, the audience is captivated. His songs float one into another, from the euphoric chorus of Pop Goes the Weasel to the fervid spoken verses of Want It Sometime; his set has been intricately designed, and it pays off. He conducts the atmosphere of the room with a mastery that exhibits his unquestionable talent as a performer. What’s more, Easter’s presence is established solely by his music as he barely addresses the audience throughout, beyond a brief "Dinnae start chatting and that".
There’s a comfortable familiarity to Easter’s voice; but somehow it’s also brisk and husky and exciting. His lyrics are almost prophetic and the power of his music makes them resonate with a wisdom beyond his years. His final track, Only Son, settles on the words: 'I don’t know the difference between life and song / Trying to strike a balance between what’s right and wrong'. Well, we can safely say he got the balance right tonight.
Callum Easter plays The Skinny takeover at Kelburn Garden Party, 6 July