Live review: Eleanor Friedberger, Empty Pools at Broadcast, 1/9/13

eleanorfriedberger“Feel free to step forward into the light,” urges Empty Pools’ vocalist Leah Pritchard as she battles with a hesitant Sunday night crowd in the Broadcast basement.

Needless to say, there may have been a shuffle forward, but no one quite makes it to the light, this is merely a matter of circumstance not an insight into the quality of music the Bristol four-piece produce.

The healthy crowd assembled is here to chill to the affecting pop sensibilities of Eleanor Friedberger and are quite happy to stand back and admire as Empty Pools’ let loose their explosive yet tight set completed by Pritchard’s penetrating snarl.

The band may be still young but they come across like they’ve been together for years, which may still be the case, and once the four-piece get into their groove they’re a very addictive, toe-tapping prospect as hints of lo-fi 90s alternative mash with calculated rhythms.

Empty Pools have a certain comfort on stage and despite the decisively shy crowd do toy with touch of humour, announcing a R.E.M cover then playing a few seconds of what could be the intro one of their own tunes and dedicating a song to Rhianna, who they claim to be in the crowd tonight (this may be a coincidence but it doesn’t seem it).

This may only be their second visit to Glasgow but I’m sure they’ll come back and play to much more responsive crowd in the not too distant future.

Eleanor Friedberger claims Glasgow to be her fifth home, her connections to the city through her ex-boyfriend possibly down to this, but we needn’t go into too much detail about him, his band’s new album may sell more that hers but there’s no doubt of who’s producing the better output these days.

Tonight’s set is built out of tracks from her two solo albums, the recent Personal Record and 2011’s brilliantly low key Last Summer, making no real reference to her proggy brother-sister band Fiery Furnaces but still maintaining that blocky, incisive vocal delivery she has become synonymous with.

Friedberger is one of those singers who you can instantly recognise just from her delivery and that is brought across just as well live as on record, as she pronounces ever meticulously detailed lines with great care while her band, featuring a couple of members Sunderland’s Field Music, accentuate the delivery with the buoyant pop arrangements we’re familiar with from record.

Although the set is interrupted quite awkwardly at one point by a man shouting about saving a Day Centre, which it appeared was being closed due to building for the Commonwealth Games – a case of wrong place wrong time that leaves the band flustered for a few seconds, the band recover and Friedberger engages in chat about the t-shirt she’s wearing, a Neil Young effort sent to her from Glasgow that she agreed to return but didn’t, “not my ex-boyfriend” she is eager to stress.

The set in all is delightful and accomplished and as she finishes on the catchy guitar pop of ‘My Mistakes’ the hesitant crowd leave fulfilled and ready to hit their beds for work the next day.

Words: Iain Dawson

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