Skip to content


The Broken Records
Written by Ali Lauder   
Published on Thursday, 21 August 2008

4 stars

Edge Festival
At the Liquid Rooms; Run ended

THE EDGE FESTIVAL is the replacement for T on the Fringe, the Edinburgh Festival’s collection of rock and pop gigs - which promises commercial and leftfield acts from local and international sources. It was exciting to see that the organisers had picked up on the Broken Records, an Edinburgh-based seven-piece who make use of guitar, drums, bass, strings, brass, piano and accordion. They’ve been attracting a lot of attention in the last year, playing many shows and expanding their fan base at home and away.

The band was playing at the Liquid Room, one of Edinburgh’s best venues to see gigs.  Its sound production is consistently impressive and the interior leaves many other Edinburgh gig spots looking the worse for wear. And in a relatively large-capacity venue, the band had pulled in a formidable if not sold-out crowd.

I’ve seen the Broken Records several times before, for subdued and intimate performances on smaller stages, and their unique folk-laden rock has worked well in these environments. Originally their music consisted of well-written acoustic rock songs led by Jamie Sutherland’s uniquely emotive voice, backed up here and there by the band's myriad of instruments. In this form they could play a smaller venue and totally capture their audience, but there was a real feeling of untapped potential with so many sonic possibilities at their disposal.

However, tonight’s show saw the septet demonstrating how the likes of playing T in the Park have furthered their ability to perform to larger audiences. They were full of energy - with the bass-heavy Liquid Room production and ample lighting giving their set an immense power, which emphasized the rock elements of their music, if slightly dampening the rest. There’s a real feeling of development when listening to their newer songs; each musician now supports each other, working together to create excellently-crafted pieces, rather than just backing up their front man. Now it feels as if the band could capture any audience, no matter what the size.

Part of the Broken Records’ appeal is the variation in their music. The band constantly swap instruments and work on creating distinctive sounds, without ever letting the songs become over-saturated. With so many instruments to hand, they don’t allow themselves to get carried away. A simple piano line, a spot of trumpet or some background accordion provides an atmospheric lift to their songs, rather than convoluting their basic message.

That’s not to say that their music is simple. While every song displays an instant quality, containing memorable tunes, strong choruses and a real variety in ideas, there’s a density in the playing that means there’s much to offer beyond the first listen. Their unique combination of country-hopping folk sounds and popularised rock with a Scottish accent results in music that is familiar and immediate but still very fresh.

While I felt that the sound was at times a little overcharged and bass-heavy, swallowing up some of the band’s musical nuances, and that the over-active lighting was often out of place, it hinted that the Broken Records could perhaps move further from their subdued origins and take their vastly rich signature sound in a more powerful direction.

Listening to the unanimous praise from random members of the audience at the close of the show, there was no doubt that the Broken Records have the very real potential to break through into even more successful territory. Let’s hope they do, for as anyone who attended the gig will tell you, they’re well worth your attention.

<< Double Down Hearts   Paperweight >>


These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2008.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

Current reviews >>

Edinburgh 2013

Coming to the Fringe this year?  We can help you make the most of your time.  Learn about Edinburgh's summer Festivals and plan your visit around the city's major events. 

Find out more >>

Top Reviews

[ A-Z ] [ Recent ] [ Best ]