About a minute into an atmospheric, extended opening to set closer The Mile, Dead Letter Circus ‘Rickroll’ the crowd. That’s right, they resort to an internet prank that stopped being relevant five years ago (Google it). But somehow the Aussie prog rockers manage to make the unexpected sound of Rick Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up quite hilarious.
As the laughter dies down, they explode back into their own track and proceed to deliver the last in what has been a flawless set. Thankfully, the band’s sound is more current than their sense of humour, and their energy belies the suspicion that they must be disappointed with tonight’s turnout.
Around 60 hardy souls have gathered on a cold and drizzly Sunday night – a figure that might have had an impact on the performance of some bands, especially if they’d travelled as far as Dead Letter Circus. But frontman Kim Benzie seems positively thrilled to be in Scotland and even vows to come back soon, although he does plead for the audience to “tell your friends about us”.
While many of the band’s songs are comparatively short, there’s no disputing their sense of adventure when it comes to songwriting, which is never more apparent than on the gorgeous Tremors. Benzie explains that this was the first song they wrote together, and it gave them the belief that they could make a go of this rock’n’roll lifestyle. Bassist Stewart Hill is clearly still smitten with the track, even after more than a decade.
Very little of what happens on the cramped stage is anything less than impressive. They even manage to make Luke Williams’ drum solo seem cool, aided by the fact that he’s as technically gifted as almost any drummer you could name. His skills shine particularly bright on set highlight I Am, a soaring epic that encapsulates everything that sets the band apart from many of their peers.
Benzie signs off by promising to stick around for a beer after the show, even if the Cathouse’s choice of house draft is – you guessed it – Foster’s. Dead Letter Circus haven’t put a foot wrong tonight and they deserve a bigger audience, not to mention a less familiar choice of bevvy!