Sam Isaac/The Xcerts – Live

Ruby Lounge, Manchester 03/12/2009
By Ian Burke

Feldspar are a one-band version of David Cameron: The Oxford Years…On A Yacht. The four polite, neatly turned out, studious gents are in all probability called Rupert, Giles, Will, and something exotic like Everest (there’s a soprano sax present, after all), yet despite being formidable musicians, their meticulously arranged, zero-tempo folk is drowned out by the bar room chatter and a lovelorn 6th form lyrical bent which makes James Blunt sound like Ian Curtis.

Theirs is the kind of despondent guff which gets played while the lead character in a TV movie dies, most probably after a long, tear-jerking battle against an incurable disease, and doesn’t exactly make for enjoyable viewing.

On the other hand, never has an opening chord been greeted with such a jolt of appreciation as when Scottish ex-pats, The Xcerts, crank into life. Having seemingly already put their ‘In The Cold Wind We Smile’ début album to bed after only nine months on the shelves, the trio concentrate on material from their forthcoming sophomore effort.

The quiet/loud dynamic of yore has been ditched in favour of loud/Manowar, Murray MacLeod’s passion unquestionable as his neck strains Deirdre Barlow-esque with each howl, his flaxon locks diving into his mouth like a country girl battling a bale of hay.

The unnamed fourth tune is, on first inspection, superior of anything else they’ve ever written, an all-out anthem which sounds like one three minute long chorus, and is surely destined to be their set closer on future visits.

Someone who won’t be making the return trip up north is Sam Isaac, who is on the verge of “splitting myself up”, and supposedly retiring from music. Presumably he’s won the lottery or got a proper job, as the royalties from his so-so ‘Bears’ album won’t exactly keep him in lumberjack shirts indefinitely.

Suffice to say, his jolly troubadourisms put him in the same bracket as Get Cape… and TANAOU, and although his obvious pop nous will be missed, his irksome vocals can be safely consigned to history’s musical dustbin without a hint of guilt.

It’s been a pleasure. Of sorts.

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