If American rebel country music had a British equivalent, I’d imagine it would sound a lot like the music of the Wave Pictures. Songs about everything from the thoughts of the band when Stephen Hendry retired from professional snooker to the cult classic Arnold Schwarzenegger science fiction film The Running Man pepper the evening in front of a packed Sneaky Pete’s crowd, like if Billy Bragg or Bruce Springsteen took their music a lot less seriously. The band, birthed in the waning hours of Britpop at the turn of the century, have never enjoyed much commercial success, the lead singer David Tattersall at one point joking that they hope to once again reach the dizzying heights of #97 on the singles chart their release “Pea Green Coat” climbed to last year, but like most great underrated bands it’s incredibly hard to argue that they do not deserve some.
Touring to promote the release of their new album “Bamboo Diner in the Rain”, and supported by Edinburgh’s own Golden Arm, the band really impressed, even if the audience was largely composed of long term fans, and the charisma of each of the members was as deft as their skills on guitar and drums. Prior to the gig, I’d been hooked on the aforementioned single “The Running Man”, which really held up live, as did the accompanying song “Pool Hall” which should really become an anthem for anti-gentrification campaigners everywhere, and you really start to question why more bands don’t write songs like this. Its catchy tendrils grab you and pull you in before you even realise it’s all about the death of Britain’s love for pool and the shutting of hundreds of pool halls across the country. It’s more mature Arctic Monkeys style poetry, lyrically fantastic and authentically genuine feelings that echoes influential British musicians of the past and that should be more predominant in our current music scene.
Again, I return to the idea that this is the music that is the British equivalent of American Country. It’s often about just life in general, about sporadic interests and events and yes, even your third favourite Schwarzenegger movie. Its poetry in action, not exactly pretty or comforting but you know it’s from the heart. Even in Canvey Island Baby, a song about a holiday the lead singer took with his partner, he can’t pass without mentioning them enjoying a sausage, beans and chips supper. It’s this quirkiness which has led to comparisons to Jonathan Richman, which they thoroughly deserve. At only ten pound a ticket as well you really can’t complain, especially in a world where some bands tend to milk fans dry. Next time they roll into Edinburgh, you should definitely check them out. You won’t be disappointed.