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Broken Records
Published on Friday, 21 August 2009

Returning to the Edge Festival once more, the buzz surrounding Broken Records was apparent from the large queue growing from the front of the Queens Hall. Last year they played the currently out-of-action Liquid Rooms, battling a loud and muddy bass sound - though they didn't let this hamper their enthusiastic performance. This year, it was clear as soon as the band took the stage that they've come a long way since last year's appearance. Having played a number of high-profile festivals recently, and with the release of their debut album, the seven-piece now exude complete confidence.

The Queens Hall is the perfect setting for Broken Records' heartfelt, smartly-dressed, literary indie-folk rock, and the sound was brilliant. Whilst it was, like last year, rather bass heavy, it was conversely very clear. This meant that when the band kicked it up a gear the music packed an exhilarating punch - but the more delicate accompanying instruments were a little lost.

However, the same instruments were clear and high in the mix when they led the songs. It must be difficult to perfect a live sound for music that features strings, brass and piano along with the more conventionally-loud combination of drums and electric guitars, but the sound technicians did a fantastic job and the music took on a contrastive switching quality that was just as effective as an integrated production, if not more so. Watching the band play through their flawless set, giving it their all, I noticed just how good their drummer is. He is, like all drummers, the backbone to every song, but his playing is so consistently tight and powerful that it ensures the music's captivating effect. The rest of Broken Records display formidable talent - and their particular method of instrument swapping and hopping allows them to create their own combination of memorable tunes, sombre passages, measured instrumentation and epic, emotional lifts. It seems odd to me that the band have been criticised for being self-indulgent with their tendency towards this in their music. Detractors are missing the point, as their skill in creating epic walls of sound is one of Broken Records' primary strengths - and an integral part of their style. It's not often that you attend a gig with a tangible special feeling about it, but this one had that very quality. The show was notable for the responsive crowd, the expectant atmosphere and the great sound, but what really stood out was the sense that you were witnessing the start of something big. The songs were played with total conviction, the band were enraptured and each note felt like an earnest projection of real feeling. This was the sort of live show that you remember years later when the band you saw are now well established and widely popular.

I don't know for sure if the Broken Records are set for such a level of success, but they're more than worthy of it. This was a major highlight for the Edge Festival, which is steadily getting better and better, and a landmark for Edinburgh's live music scene.

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