Schnarff Schnarff, with support from Artie Ziff and Pure Grief, at Tooth & Claw, Inverness.
Schnarff Schnarff are currently on an upwards trajectory and a hometown performance was overdue with it being the band’s first appearance in Inverness since the release of “The evil that we do…”. The eighty capacity venue is sold out just before doors open, perhaps unsurprising in context, but great to see regardless.
The short menacing intro for Artie Ziff’s opener ‘Ashes’ quickly dissipates into a heady mix of catchy, dark choruses and impressive instrumentals with more than a hint of prog-rock at times. There is a strong core to the music – with snarling angsty lyrics from “Ashes to ashes, Dust to dust”, to “Don’t you fucking get it” they will resonate with many in the current political climate, certainly if the response from the audience tonight was anything to go by.
Pure Grief, have continued to impress on their journey to a more ‘mainstream’ offering than their previous incarnation, Cactus and Cardigan. However not all has been abandoned from previous songs, they have a real talent for surreal lyrics and cut sound clips from films (The Usual Suspects and Jurassic Park were the ones that I spotted ) into the performance – these helped fill the ‘tuning gaps’ between songs very nicely indeed.
A slurp of Red Bull sees Schnarff Schnarff’s front man Myles Bonnar readying himself for the set. The size of the stage may have been restricting for a frontman who likes to be on the move and prowl around during live sets – but he took to the floor and mixed with the audience creating a level of intimacy that certainly added to the intensity of the evening.
Whilst eyes are drawn to Myles’ vocals, it is testament to the strength of the group that others are not lost, far from it, there’s a chunky amount of noise, well formed, considered and ultimately impressive: perhaps this is best evidenced by set opener ‘This Is How We Get Some’.
The audience are in good form, every song is applauded, cheered and they even offer a help with the lyrics that much bigger bands would covet. Indeed, despite enjoying several plays of “The evil that we do…”, it is the live setting that Schnarff Schnarff really excel, there is an electricity in their performances that needs, deserves and absolutely demands a live audience.
The elephant in the room tonight was the lighting – a row of four substantial looking LED’s would have been outshone by a solitary fairy light and there seemed to be no way to increase the output. All of the bands made reference to the issue and you can’t help but empathise with them, and to be sure improvisation and pure tenacity results in little impairment for the audience. Bloody elephant nonetheless!