Review: Bwani Junction, HMV Picture House

Bwani Junction
Bwani Junction
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Having been tipped for the top by NME and championed by star DJs Zane Lowe, Huw Stephens and Vic Galloway, there’s a lot of buzz around Edinburgh’s Bwani Junction at the moment

****

And tonight, for once, we’re witness to a band that could actually live up to the hype.

The quartet might not be long out of school, but they sound like they’ve been together forever, playing their instruments with an ease and effortlessness that belies their youthful appearance.

If the excellent Two Bridges was the track that got them noticed, then gloriously infectious newbie All The Same Tricks could well be the one that propels them into the big time.

There might be similarities to indie favourites Foals and Vampire Weekend, but to brand them purely in those terms is lazy – and unjust – given that these former Merchiston Castle pupils have drawn inspiration from a much wider range of source material.

While the tunes are mainly Afrobeat in character, the pace is distinctly Reggae. Live, that lends a sprawling, languid nature to proceedings, especially on the Roots Too Deep and Today’s Crusades. And the Queensferry youngsters have clearly absorbed influences from closer to home, the jangly refrains on She Ain’t Sayin’ No and My Body, My Mind evoking Scots rockers Simple Minds and Big Country.

They even manage to seamlessly segue Ewan MacColl’s Dirty Old Town into Orchestra Super Mazembe’s African classic Shauri Yako during one unforgettable extended cover. It’s just a shame then that the Picture House isn’t full, depriving them of an atmosphere and energy they deserve. Not that it bothered them, chirruping away cheerfully with the crowd throughout.

“You’re probably wondering why I’m wearing this jumper and scarf,” says frontman Rory Fairweather, sheepishly addressing his get-up during one such moment. “We’re not used to playing places this big, and I didn’t realise it would be so cold!”

Best look out those thermals then, lads, because on this evidence, you’ll be regularly gracing this size of venue very soon indeed.