For their first night in May (coincidentally, the opening night too), they had David Rybka and Pete David & the Payroll Union.
David Rybka did a lot of strumming in singing in his short, solemn set (which had a few misshaps, but the console behaved eventually). He had a song called ‘Mexico’ which was interesting for three reasons:
1) It’s an idealised (or nostalgic) look at Mexico and sadly doesn’t represent what the country has become now.
2) This event took place on May 5th, which is notoriously famous in Mexico for being Cinco de Mayo, when we celebrate that we defeated the French army (who outnumbered us 2 to 1) in The Battle of Puebla. Sure, they came back the year after better armed (Brie was involved) and kicked our asses, put an Emperor (he was from the House of Habsburg) and after three years, we executed him for his troubles (Go Juárez!). History = as bloody as Grand Theft Auto. Silver lining? Franz Liszt made a song about him.
3) David Rybka spent time in Puebla. This coincidence is amazing.
But, random navelgazing and word waffling apart, his set was good and for once, it’s nice to see an audience behave when an acoustic, quiet act is playing. He was gracious and chatty with the audience too.
It was a special night for Pete David & The Payroll Union. More on the side of “eventful” than “special” as it was the last gig with banjoist Joe Field. Although the band played with their usual energy, you could feel some nostalgia in the air. Their set started with ‘There’s a light’, which is a happy song about a lot of bad things (including the Trail of Tears). It’s arguably the catchiest one from their EP (shameles plug – review) and it’s a delight to listen to it live.
More good songs followed, like the history lesson (although most of their songs seem to be one) that is ‘St.Laurence’s River’, the sombre, completely cinematic ‘Ghosts’ (perfect for the closing credits of a Weird Western), the catchy, rowdy ‘Richmond Town’ and the slow ditty/lamentation that is ‘Abigail’.
Random quotes peppered the walls, a paper where a “write your own lines” was there, waiting for anyone’s wit to be put down in a pen that managed to survive the night un-nicked (God Bless England – you do have manners) and the acoustic night seemed a success. Let’s hope the following nights are equally as good.
Opus Acoustics runs every Thursday at The Riverside. Pete David & Payroll Union will rock the Broomhall community centre on May 28th (no hay, though).
Pete David & The Payroll Union