Aidan Moffet | All photographs by Anika Mottershaw
So when I eventually make it to the Union Chapel (braving the pouring rain and 4 buses later due to a severely reduced tube service. I’m absolutely drenched) for Owl Parliament’s all-ages, all-day music festival, every one is sitting in a hushed appreciation as Laura Groves’ Blue Roses project plays the last remaining songs of her charming set. There’s something of a novelty at seeing your usual gig going beard-brigade folk sitting on these truly uncomfortable wooden pews, scared to make a sound. I love it. So respectful. So polite. Where am I? Am I in London? Yes I am.
I grab a cup of tea, find a sweet position in middle of the pews and settle down just as Falkirk’s finest, Aiden Moffet (of Arab Strap shame) featuring Scraggy Beard takes to the stage. With a minimum of fuss and with only minimal instrumentation, he managed to fill his spot with an endearing allure and magnetism despite his cynical, tounge-in-cheek downbeat delivery.
Though the instrumentation was limited, it never felt at all like the songs were lacking since his vocals and, I refuse to say lyrics, but poetry really shine through instead. He played a simple mini-harp refrain on the achingly sad ‘The Last Kiss’ and picked up a mini harmonium squeezebox a couple of times to add a folk element for “a song about Footballers and Golf… as if I give a fuck who they’re fucking!”. Later he’d sample his harmonica to great effect. Looping it over and over and make up for his lack of backing band. Towards the end of the set he mutters “If I left you on a happy note, I wouldn’t be doing my job would I?!”. Certainly not. He read a dainty, sweet children’s poem entitled “Lavender Blue Dress”… “No cocks and fannies in this one!”.
Up next, it’s time for Mount Eerie, aka The Microphones aka Phil Elvrum who provides the highlight for me. “I’m a little spaced right now” Phil says. He’s just flown in from the States and about to jet off to South Korea tomorrow. “I feel so important saying that. Like I’m some jetsetter or something”. He handpicks choice cuts mainly from his last record, ‘Wind’s Dark Poem’ (such as ‘My Heart Is Not At Peace’, ‘Wind Speaks’, ‘Stone’s Ode’) all with the accompaniment of the acoustic guitar, rather than the Xasthur inspired noise-metal versions on record. Yet it’s his older material which fares better this evening. ‘With My Hands Out’, Phil finds release in starting over. “Though I am soaked, and I am cold, I will be clean… I want to come out of this robbery with my hands up…”. His sense of relief and resignation in voice on making this declaration is both resolute and tentative. I think I get the chills. And it’s definitely not due to the draft coming in. Both ‘You Swan, Go On’, and ‘I Felt Your Shape’ from the near sounds delightful simple and to-the-point but just as affecting.
The set winds down to a close with the hit factory of ‘Ancient Questions’, ‘Between 2 Mysteries, a Twin Peaks inspired track (which actually includes elements of “Twin Peaks Theme” by Angelo Badalementi on the recorded version) and ‘Voice in the Headphones’ which borrows the chorus from Bjork’s – ‘Undo’ and makes me feel like weeping everytime I hear it. He pauses the track abruptly. People think it’s a pause in the track but actually the songs finished. The silence is deafening. It lasts for nearly 15 seconds until it’s realised the song is over to much humour.
“You know, during that pause… Could you hear that “EEEEEE!” ringing sound in your ear.. or is just me?” It was just you Phil. It was just you.
Roll on the next Owl Parliament please!
Emmy The Great