Virginia Wing @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, 7 Oct
Virginia Wing more than do justice to their third album Ecstatic Arrow tonight, in an intense and energetic live performance
On their third album as Virginia Wing, Alice Merida Richards and Sam Pillay created their most impressive work to date. Ecstatic Arrow is a bright and hopeful record, which finetunes all the uniqueness of the duo’s brand of synth-pop, but their live performance conveys much more intensity to the album’s blissful sounds.
Richards’ presence is dominating, and she completely commands the stage and audience, only twice breaking character during the performance – the first intentionally, to thank the audience for coming; the second unintentionally, when she starts laughing after accidentally hitting her microphone off one of the speakers above her. Barely visible behind the smoke, his face mostly hidden underneath the lip of his cap, Pillay maintains a low profile throughout, leaving Richards very much the centre of the audience’s attention.
Even between songs there is little space left for applause, as each one blends into the next. Beginning crouched at the side of the stage during an instrumental opener, Richards makes her way to centre stage and pauses in a static pose – facing the right wall with one arm outstretched – before starting to pace around the stage as the instrumental leads into Ecstatic Arrow opener Be Released.
As the opening notes of The Second Shift kick in, Richards’ energy changes and she begins bouncing around the stage like a boisterous child. She maintains a similar demeanour for performances of The Female Genius, For Every Window There’s a Curtain and Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day. On Glorious Idea, however, the intensity returns, with Richards reclaiming her piercing stare and just about screaming the chorus of 'Here is what you want' into her microphone, rather than emulating the sultry, hushed delivery on record.
With only a brief dip into their back catalogue towards the end of their set, tonight’s show is largely dedicated to Ecstatic Arrow and it more than does the album justice. Virginia Wing’s utopia is full of hope and promise, and it’s one we should all be a part of.