Review: Skyless, Sneaky Pete’s

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You get all kinds of weird and wonderful indie bands performing at Sneaky Pete’s. So it was a bit surprising to see a good, old-fashioned rock band – in the Led Zeppelin sense – tearing up the Cowgate venue last Saturday.

***

An unfussy bunch, the Edinburgh-based group simply get up there, do their thing, and wander off again. And what they do is completely devoid of any frills, organised tom-foolery or over-the-top histrionics. On the downside, such a distinct lack of ego also means a lack of innovation.

Wielding large Gibson Les Paul guitars (think Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page), their sound is so thoroughly buried in 70s guitar-rock, it would take you a spade and an extraordinary long stepladder to climb out of it. Do they care, though? Not a jot.

Indulgent, then, sure – the songs are twice the length of any radio edit – and the five lads give you the impression they’re drinking buddies who enjoy enthusing about gigantic guitar riffs over a few pints.

Saturday night’s show, though, also coincided with the release of their new EP – sales going towards the funding of the lads’ summer holidays – and in front of a healthy-sized crowd, they slew, grooved and largely rocked their way through a 40-minute set.

Flanked by the twin guitar assault of Grieg Elliot and Fraser Allan, for a wee chap frontman Stevie Hunter has a belter of a voice three times his size. A smaller version of Jon Bon Jovi perhaps, with his patchwork leather breeks and shiny waistcoat, it’s safe to say any admiring female onlookers would be more likely to take him to a second-hand clothes shop than to bed.

And so it went, as one Aerosmith-Zeppelin-inspired monster followed another without any great note. And therein lays Skyless’ problem.

With a little help from a producer, their riffs could be carved into smoother, better-sounding songs. A little more menace would make them a more visually-enticing act, too. And applying the gas pedal on occasion would vary things for the better, as well.

Until then, Skyless remain a decent, if rather benign outfit.