With The Bongo Club forced to vacate its current premises, and with scepticism rife over whether or not a rebranded Cabaret Voltaire will continue to promote live music, the Edinburgh underground music scene is in a bit of a lull just now.
Fortunately, the Capital’s answer to New York’s CBGB – Sneaky Pete’s – is in rude health.
Tucked away in the Cowgate, the venue is everything a good indie-rock club should be – small, dark, busy, sweat dripping from the walls and at least three pillars to obscure your view of the stage.
Yet even on a Tuesday evening – and on a night when most people are at home watching the Brit Awards – enough people show up to ensure London’s Allo Darlin’ perform to a sell-out audience.
With a name like theirs, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were about to see some sleazy geezers singing in a Cockney accent. Not on your Nellie.
Fronted by short-haired Australian singer Elizabeth Morris, this bright, shiny quartet has more in common with American female- fronted indie bands of the 1990s than any group from the Big Smoke playing the Camden Town circuit.
Their songs are short and chirpy, upbeat and instantly accessible – the sort of thing you might expect to hear in a rom-com movie starring Scarlett Johansson.
“It’s hard to dance in monkey boots. I don’t know how those goths do it,” Morris laughs, kicking off her waders and launching into Northern Lights, a tune reminiscent of Aberfeldy had Chrissie Hynde been singing for them.
Porn star lookalike, moustached bassist Bill Botting, meanwhile, bounces along to every number as if standing still might cause him to self-combust.
Guitarist Paul Rains, however, receives generous applause for soldiering on with a song despite sounding out of tune. Bless ’im.
All good stuff.
Yet, Allo Darlin’ don’t possess that killer tune, that one track which might make the difference between cult status and hitting the big time.
However, you sense it’s there, just waiting. A bit like the Edinburgh music scene’s search for decent venues really – they are there; it just might take a while to unearth them.