The Ninth Wave, Lucia and The Best Boys and Echo Machine bring joy to Dundee
Intelligent electronic pop tunes with attitude would best describe the night. The Church in Dundee saw some fantastic performances from all three bands. Headliners, The Ninth Wave have emerged from the enforced hiatus that Covid19 brought about as the nation went into hibernation from live performances. They managed to pull a tour together with some strategic venues up and down the country and by all accounts, everyone has gone down a storm. Whether it’s the desperation for live music or the fact that the band have put together a strong back catalogue of material in the past few years, something has clicked for them and their strength in depth is coming to the fore.
Local darlings Echo Machine were first on the bill and had the potentially daunting task of playing to an empty room as the early slot often suffers from a lack of crowd. No concern tonight, the room was filling as they came on stage. The stage was rammed with tech, not just the obligatory foot pedals that adorn most stages but synths/sequencers and laptops were the order of the day. The opener “Less Alone” is a massive wall of sound with soaring synths underpinned with hammering live drums. The full on aural attack continued with “Chameleon”, both songs the opening tracks from their album “Instant Transmissions” release last year before the pause button was hit due to Covid. Singer, Gary Moore somehow made the most of what stage he had to work with. With slightly more room than your average shower cubicle, he danced constantly providing some much needed entertainment after the long dark year. The visual aesthetic of the band is complimented across the board as each member contributed to an overall array of alternative hair styles and fashions. Sisters Hannah and Heather McKay are a formidable backline as the live Drums and Bass cement the analogue synth bass lines. Michael McFarlane’s guitar is the icing on the cake as the lead synth of Lewis Bage tried it’s best to steal the show. Impressive display and with some new songs in the set, there’s a new album in the offering for 2022.
Lucia and the Best Boys have managed to piece together a tour for 2021 and enjoyed some amazing gigs to date. Like Echo Machine before them, the band are striking visually. Lucia Fairfull would not look out of place on a fashion shoot but her stage presence comes across immediately. Lucia’s soaring voice cut through the ether and demonstrated her full vocal range from the off. “Summertime”. A bitter sweet tenderness comes across in the lyrics as Lucia draws inspiration from her life. The music is immaculate, like her voice. Both note prefect and detailed. There was a clinical delivery from all the players on stage. Each song had it’s own narrative and Lucia’s commanding performance grabbed the attention of the audience for the entire set. Lucia picked up a guitar for “Nightmare Accidentally” another well orchestrated song, which had overhauled an 80’s influence and injected attitude. The crowd were amused by Lucia’s observation that half the crowd may have turned up to see guitarist Adam who is from Dundee. She acknowledged that the band are half Glasgow/Dundee much to the delight of the punters. New song, “Burning Castles” again demonstrated Lucia’s voice is untouchable, she hit notes that you felt to your core. “When You Dress Up” elevates and inspires. During the song, less was more at times. Floods of guitar felt essential to the overall narrative. Lucia was almost menacing at times when she sung “I’ll show you what I’m made of”, one of the highlights of the night. Heavy drums and sequenced synth drove the next song, “You’re so Sweet”. A darker side unleashed yet so fitting. In contrast, “Go” felt like a full on powerhouse of a pop song. The crowd engaged with arms aloft clapping to the one word chorus. The last song was introduced by Lucia with her rolling out the lyrics for the crowd to sing along. She adorned a white cowboy hat and somehow, it was not out of place in the old church. Lucia joined the crowd on the barrier and they united in a singalong to “Perfectly Untrue”. With over a million listens on Spotify, the song from their last E.P. “The State of Things” and the last of four songs from that played tonight. Stunning performance all round and with a bigger tour planned for 2022, Lucia and the Best Boys will be a household name before long.
Lucia is a hard act to follow but The Ninth Wave brought another dimension to the two acts that preceded them. Stripped back, literally as it wasn’t long before Hayden Park-Patterson took off his jacket! There were times when the music was bare but that dynamic is an essential part of what The Ninth Wave do. I had to chuckle at the set list as the word “donk” had been substituted into every song name. This itself said to me the band are not taking themselves as serious as they may portray. Outwardly though, you get what you pay for with the band, a performance and a safe place to enjoy the music. There’s a sincerity and maturity about them and their songs, they care. Melancholy yet magnificent. “Happy Days” (or Donks!) is very reminiscent of early Depeche Mode and vocally, a nod to David Gahan. Multilayered, timbral synths with a pounding beat behind them were blistering at times. “This Broken Design” sounded huge through the PA. The Ninth Wave have consolidated their material in the past 18 months and appear to have come out fighting post lockdown. New single “Piece and Pound Coins” grows on you. Drum machine and piano being spoken over was embellished throughout the song with wonderful layers of vocals from Millie Kidd and the synths of Kyalo Searle-nbullu. Millie and Hayden shared vocals throughout the set and their voices were perfectly in sync. Calum Stewart plays an integral part in the band as his live drumming and multi-instruments complimented the electronic feel to the set and brought it alive. “Everything Will Be Fine” just might be the mission statement for the band moving forward and the song filled the venue as the crowd bounced along. “I’m Only Going To Hurt You” showed the diversity in delivery and how the halcyon days of 80’s pop tunes have been re-invented to express anxieties and emotions through emotive electronics. The band saved their new single to play at the end of their set, “Maybe You Didn’t Think” builds and you heard the dialect in Hayden’s vocal. There was a massive cheer and thankfully, it was enough to encourage an encore. The band made a promise to themselves not to do encores but “All the Things We Do” was the reward for the sustained encouragement from the crowd. No rest for the band as they moved onto two sold out nights in their hometown Glasgow but Dundee acquitted themselves well with a near full house.