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LIVE: Meursault / Fionnbarr Byrne & Emma Capponi – Pianodrome, Edinburgh, 28/07/2023

Sometimes, when you write about music as often as I do, by the time an album you’ve written about is out it can almost feel like the moment has passed. Not so with Meursault‘s self-titled latest album, which leaves its mark on you and doesn’t let up. In a just world, it would have been on the shortlist for the Mercury awards, but life isn’t fair, as was drummed into me from an early age.

It’s a pleasurably intense album – much more than its thirty or so minutes and it might well break your heart. Tonight is the first of two nights of the band playing it at the Pianodrome, a venue in the round built in an old branch of Debenhams at Ocean Terminal, a shopping centre in Leith (if you’re thinking Trainspotting surroundings, you really are a couple of decades out). It’s actually built out of old pianos, which sounds painfully hipster but actually adds quite a resonance to proceedings.

First on tonight are Fionnbarr Byrne & Emma Capponi. The duo, who are also members of Meursault, have voices that blend beautifully, and between them take on guitar, flute, electronics and way more besides. Their short set is deservedly well-received, and the highlight is their just released single ‘Winter‘ available via Bandcamp. There is, reportedly, an album on the way and on tonight’s performance it will be a fine record.

Considering the mood of the record, tonight is a joyous upbeat gig. Lead singer Neil Pennycook is actually wearing a very sober looking suit and tie but there’s a lot of banter between songs, which includes some older songs, but is understandably mostly centred around the new album. The show kicks off with album opener ‘Rats In The Corn.’ The definition of a gentleman has been described as being someone who can play the harmonica but doesn’t, but they clearly never heard it played like this before.

The album originally started out as a concept album, before being pulled back from that idea, so it doesn’t matter that it’s not played in sequence. It’s also great to hear older tracks like ‘Beaten’ from Crow Hill. Another highlight of the gig is a cover of Adam Faucett‘s ‘Day Drinker‘ – I don’t know if the band have recorded this but it’s a great version of a wonderful song (hopefully someone recorded the gig).

There’s no weak spots on the album, but it’s probably ‘WOLF!!‘ and ‘Teacher Was I Wrong To Burn‘ which pack the most punch, not only on the album but also tonight. These songs seem so personal that it feels they cannot be fictional, though it’s probably wise not to ask. The gig doesn’t end here and we go out on a high. Sure it’s no stretch of the imagination to hear these songs played in a much bigger venue (I have seen Meursault play way bigger venues and pull it off), but it feels like a privilege to witness Meursault – the band – playing in such intimate surroundings. Whilst there might be other tracks it would be nice to hear – Neil Pennycook makes a quip about not playing anything off the band’s first two albums – the place we find Meursault in 2023 is as strong as they have ever been in nearly twenty years of existence.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.