Passed the acid test.
Launching your album with a free night can go a few ways but given that it should allow new material to be played to as many people as possible, Emma Pollock should be commended for the decision to launch 'Watch The Fireworks' in such a manner. Okay, the crowd would rather have received a free pint to celebrate the album like Emma briefly suggested but as second best prizes go, a free show wasn't a bad one.
When you consider the momentum that Emma Pollock has been building up over the last few months, it's obvious early on that it's better than not a bad offering - it's a bloody bargain. With the amount of gigs been building up since the start of the year and a few Summer festival slots under her belt, the release of the record can't come soon enough.
The excitement reaches an early high during 'Paper and Glue', which although starting delicately manages to build over the length of the song before surges up to the chorus. Lyrically it flits about, on one hand the singer infers she has been living out a dream but soon after suggests a darker parting of the ways. Its this mix of melancholy and melody that combines to grip the listener and should see Emma building a fanbase if the material is allowed a chance to be heard.
Playing with a plectrum that belonged to Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth that was saved from the band's recent Glasgow shows, Emma's self-deprecating humour came to the fore when she announced it was the most famous thing on the stage that night. Don't get me wrong, as a big Sonic Youth fan there was an element of coolness about playing with Thurston's pick but the diminutive singer was doing herself a great dis-service with comments like that. Then again, I've always wanted to make more self-deprecating comments but I've never been any good at them.
The night didn't entirely focus on the album, the brief acoustic section saw Emma dip into a mix of music and poetry, with the sort of song that saw the 'Ballad of The Books' gather some press and praise on its release. As good as the acoustic section, it did pale in comparison with the full band stuff, with 'Here Comes The Heartbreak' marking itself out as a favourite as well. Coming across like a classic poppy number with the vocals touching the hem of that 60s girl group sound, and some musing on the crazy world of love and how to get it.
The band were in good humour and even Emma's ominous warnings of what their US tour was likely to entail (all the people sharing the same bus) couldn't wipe the smile off of their faces and it was fair to say that everyone in the room seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The few R13 reviews that Emma has received have all picked up on the set-closer, a song that stands apart from most of the other material on show, and this review will be no different. It immediately hits the listener with a sadder tone and a quieter air than what has gone before and the initial thinking that it's a strange track to close a gig with (and indeed the album) soon subsides as the track develops and strengthens towards its close. The briefest of pauses ushers in an instrumental wave that picks out lines and starts to wash over the listener and as closers go, it's pretty emphatic. So much so that there wasn't really any complaint about the lack of an encore, and in all honesty, there wasn't any room for complaint at all. Now that the album is finally in the shops it's likely to be the start of an even longer haul for Emma Pollock and her backing band but on recent showings, it's looking like a pretty enjoyable one.