A spotlight on Pictish Trail’s concert at the The Moth Club, London.
Listen to Soundscapes vol.124, a playlist curated by Pictish Trail
The most engrossing artists create their own world. In coming from the isle of Eigg (In Scotland’s inner Hebrides) Johnny Pictish lives in his own world and then reveals it intermittently. The latest album cover for his post lockdown “Island Family” looks like an ethereal green space rock replete with its own colourful alien creatures. This world is perpetuated by his very own Lost Map Records which he runs from Eigg. Population 150 odd (Not including sheep). Lost Map is very exciting in its curation of different voices which gets shared in some novel ways like their Post Map club which sends monthly tracks to fans.
The Moth Club has great character, with its working man’s club aesthetic with added gold glittery ceiling. There is a strange beauty arriving early to find it empty. Aileyah Enyo begins with a dj set before Lost Map’s synth duo Maranta take the stage. Their set is propulsive, underpinned by their new EP “Deux Pleasure”. Track “My Man” is emblematic of a juxtaposition of darker subject matter (describing a sexual assault. The word “Fanny” delivered in Gloria’s arresting Scottish accent) but with a Human League esque synth driving it. The crowd dancing already. Pictish arrives on stage on his own and starts an acoustic set. “But once a Year” should enter Christmas Song canon with its description of an annual visit to church with his “Gameboy on silent mode”. This humour is always offset with aching beauty though. His guitar gets fuzzier and heavier and the band begin to take the stage one by one.
The humour as well as the energy escalate. He knows how to get the audience invested. “Melody Something” is introduced as his jogging song which he does on a remote part of the island because he’s “shite at jogging”. Each song a little window into his world, all highly relatable. He states that by the end of the gig he wants the audience all dancing with each other like the ceilidh scene in the Snowman. By the time they get to “Fear Anchor” the band are in full force propelled by Iian’s drumming and the muscular chugging guitar of Joe. The latter looks like a tall Scottish version of Sepultura’s Andreas Kisser.
“Remote Control” with its fuzzed out groove is enhanced by being introduced as a song about watching post career 90’s wrestling star interviews during lockdown. A time where everyone went down their own wormholes. The audience fully moving to it. This then segues perfectly into the groove of “Thumb World’s” “Double Sided”. “Island Family” is already an classic, with its frenetic opener and epic chorus. The crowd chant it back. In full thrall.
The humour is never far away and draws the audience in all the more. The opener to “Turning Back” is jokingly compared to Whigfield’s Saturday Night. It becomes an epic communion of dance and noise, with the audience all executing mock turns in unison that become infectious. Then also delivering on the dancing reels from the Snowman promised earlier. “Brow Beaten” finishes the set with a full on burst of chugging guitar and jumping from audience and band alike. It’s turned into a full rager!
The night doesn’t end there. There is a DJ set at the Shacklewell arms till 3am (fittingly augmented by a projection of Blue Velvet on a velvet curtain). Then a daytime 12 o’clock start for everyone again plus Fell (focusing on their beautiful pastoral new album “Mallows Marsh”). For Daytime music’s event at St Johns in Bethnal with its cavernous sound. Aileyah Enyo also delivers a haunting set that works best with eyes closed. Johnny then delivers a delicate acoustic set, lovingly covering Low’s “just like Christmas” and my favourite, “Slow memories” which I’d requested and he kindly played. In less than 24 hrs playing in London, Pictish’s Lost Map island family give the audience everything and more. Before heading back to their world. You can reach it by postcard though – and they’ll send some back.