Pronto Mama / Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh | 13th of December

Pronto Mama / Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh | 13th of December

From early doors, a din of inane chatter fills Sneaky’s this eve, with no hint of conclusion, or regard for those on stage. A damn shame, given what is on offer. Headclouds manage to conquer the babbling blockheads by giving the audience a taster of their gangly armed indie-surf fusion. On Flowers, guitarist Al Charnley serenades the audience with twanging reverb, evoking memories of summers past, but also of summers ahead — a welcome reminder that the winter woes that lie outside our sonic-sanctuary are not eternal.

The Glasgow boys, Pronto Mama, take to the stage and ensure they are stood in the comfiest positions possible, as amidst the sprawl of instruments, gear, and bodies (seven in all, including their own tech) there isn’t the space for breathing, let alone any flailing limbs or extravagant guitar moves; in this regard, the boys must be thankful they’re humble. Bottom Feeder is a restrained and thoughtful opener, which introduces many of the band’s best elements: airy harmonies, bursting melodies, crashing percussion, and punching brass.

Surprises come swift with these lads, from their announcement that they’ll be playing fresh-of-the-presses album Any Joy in its entirety, to their rendition of lead single Arabesque — the track starts with slow and dreamy keys, before erupting into a ska blazed, porno-bassed, indie-rocked banger. The tune’s 8-bit denouement is played out via midi-piano, sounding like the bittersweet ending of a Super Mario game, where our hero rescues the Princess and all seems jolly, but thoughts soon sour when inevitability dictates that she is destined to be nicked again.

Shifting gear, Rubber brings the funk and gets the hips swaying, and is fitted with a crystal clear guitar that would be right at home with Foals. Up another gear, Double-Speak showcases drummer Martin Johnston’s demonic thrashing, and up again, One Trick Pony highlights the band’s need for brass, its finale is a glorious fanfare that could serve as an incredible encore with its sense of swelling celebration.

The medal for gallantry goes out to the audience member who finally snapped and turned to the irreverent pricks at the back of the room and shouted, ‘Shut it!’ Gratitude will forever be given to that soul, as next track Sentiment is the evening’s true diamond, played out in pin-drop silence. All the lads lay down their arms and limber up their lungs for this a cappella harmony, which sets the crowd alight and charms us into serenity. Its folky edge elevates the set to heavenly highs that, judging by the shivers working their way through the crowd, we crave more of.

From here, the night fails to rev up much further, arguably as a result of the running order and the plateauing of genre to their indie-rock safety net. This being said, they still deliver on account of their cheeky banter, tight timing, and their tender performance of Bennie, which pensively pulls the band together, and leaves us feeling all warm and fuzzy as we disperse into the chilly winter eve.

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