City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Review: The Wave Pictures, 18 October 2009

By Euan Andrews - Posted on 28 October 2009

Wave Pictures
Show Details
Cabaret Voltaire

Sunday night in Cabaret Voltaire and the vibe is, well, nice. An audience of well turned out indie kids greet The Wave Pictures as they take the stage with one of the most inauspicious gig openings I’ve ever seen; plugging away at their instruments and staring helplessly at the empty sound booth, while the evening’s backing tape continues to play and the clock ticks helplessly towards curfew time.

Mr Sound finally appears and The Wave Pictures launch into some serious rock action, with a long, slow, barely there number. It almost begins to feel like we’ve haplessly wandered into a particularly ramshackle rehearsal. A raggedy guitar solo ends the song, feeling slightly incongruous amidst the C86ness of it all. Singer David Tattersall gazes somewhat beatifically down at us, almost as if noticing we’re all here for the first time.

He tells us a story about how nice we seem, compared to last night’s audience in Aberdeen where it seems the Pictures were nearly the victims of some potential aggro. This is not hard to imagine. They seem like effete, ageless students. Certainly not safe amongst the man-eating trolls of Aberdeen’s Saturday night fights.

The Wave Pictures have been around for ten years, sometimes working alongside kindred bedroom spirits such as Herman Dune and Jeffrey Lewis, and like these two artists it does seem as though they shelved any further musical ambition or development early on in their career so as to remain safely hermetically sealed within their own little world. The evening unwinds slowly, Tattersall losing sight of the time and wondering aloud how long they have, then complaining about how little it is. They’re like floppy haired, slightly gawky teenagers who see no reason why they should do as they’re told, all the while smiling infuriatingly.

A perfect example of this comes when Robert Crumb lookalike, Andre Herman Dune, joins them onstage to play clarinet. Obviously considering his own personal freedom more important than Cabaret Voltaire’s licence, he drags away at a fag onstage before a big, burly bouncer appears to the rear and taps him on the shoulder. The frisson of tension in the audience at someone SMOKING ONSTAGE is so great that the incident feels like the most provocative onstage rock statement since GG Allin threw his freshly laid excrement at a crowd.

There is nothing unpleasant about tonight. The Wave Pictures are humorous, laidback hosts, if a little too sure of themselves. They put on a perfect Sunday night gig, soothing and softening away any remaining hungover edges. But they feel to me an insular experience, like watching a small group of people have a lovely little party to which I am not invited.