The fact that a show included in the Edinburgh Fringe was moved across to Glasgow was inconvenient in itself. But when your bus home collides with another, you begin to re-evaluate the evening you had. Was travelling all that way really worth what could have been something a hell of lot worse?
Taking the show away from the festival hustle of the now crowded streets of Edinburgh to just generally kind of busy streets of Glasgow makes the show feel like something else. Then again, I can’t imagine it meant a lot to the band for all they gained was a better (and familiar) venue. When performing Múm seemed trapped in their own little world where location isn’t necessarily key. All they wish to do is lull the crowd that gathers into their childish Neverland where you sing every note like it’s your last (or first) and break out the flutes and harmonicas whenever you can.
But before the presence of Múm could draw in or confuse those present, Scottish band My Latest Novel took up supporting duties. Coming across as an sort of more accessible version of The Twilight Sad with thickening instrumental melodies and welcoming vocals the band’s most intriguing feature this evening was how much they contrasted the type of music the headlining band were going to provide. But that played in their favour, for surely another band of full of childish enthusiasm would have made for too much sweetness in the space of one evening. With breaks of violin and organ, My Latest Novel always seemed to have something up their sleeves, whether it be a sudden change in tempo or the way their presence on stage reminded me of Dirty Projectors.
Thankfully for Múm most of the songs from their new album, Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know, transfer well onto the stage. Even opening song “If I Were A Fish” worked surprisingly well, as electric guitar slid it through its otherwise sparse instrumentation, until at last the drums came charging in towards the end. From a clattering introduction of odd maracas then came the delightful “Marmalade Fires” which swam along without trouble. And from this you could probably evaluate the rest of the material from the night. Taking songs from their last two albums is all to be expected but its saddening that all thoughts of their early material seem to be extinguished. Then again, I never held out hope for hearing “Green Grass Of Tunnel”.
As said, the songs from their last albums do fare well live and probably result in something more interesting to watch as they take up instruments like violins, guitars, ukuleles, melodicas, harmonicas and whole bunch of others. The transition from the flutes to harmonicas as the band went from the sweeps of “Dancing Behind My Eyelids” to the random bursts of “They Made Frogs Smoke ‘Til They Exploded” made a great coupling of songs and a reminder that the band can create a strong fusion of their juvenile tendencies and enjoyable music.
And yet, as great as “Sing Along” and “Hullaballabalú” were, along with many other songs, they felt like wasted opportunities live. The vocals melodies are so simple they could be known to anyone within a couple of minutes and from this could have sprouted good audience involvement. “We want to make you sing along” they sing, but they don’t really make any effort to back up the lyrics.
Despite this Múm are still entertaining to watch. They put every ounce of energy they have into every note and aren’t scared of going off track into spontaneous solos with whatever instrument they happen to be holding. And they did give those who still enjoy the older stuff and distorted yet enveloping version of “Smell Memory” as an encore which cut short the slower build in favour of dizzying loops and unrecognizable noise, beneath which the jolting copper-box hook emerged. But as fruitful a show as this may have been, the first thing I’m likely to mention about the night is the bus crashing on the way home. It was dramatic but today I’m ok.