Fire Engines / Sons & Daughters / Aberfeldy, Liquid Room, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture

For those who have been following the recently resurgent Scottish music scene, this gig offered a refreshing novelty - some of the best Scots bands of 2004 all on one stage, with Franz Ferdinand notable only for their attendance, rather than a live performance.

Alex Kapranos and co could have been returning a favour after the Fire Engines supported them at an arena date at Glasgow's SECC a week earlier. The Edinburgh quartet came to national prominence at the tail end of the Seventies as - alongside The Rezillos - the city's main punk export, and were in on the ground floor of the British New Wave movement.

While their first incarnation came to an end in 1981, a recent invitation to support Captain Beefheart's old cohorts The Magic Band proved too hard to resist. That led to a mini-resurgence in popularity, which only snowballed when Franz Ferdinand cited them as an influence and invited them to play that seminal support slot. Not only that, but a split 7in single appeared at the show (with the Fire Engines covering Franz's "Jacqueline", and Franz returning the favour with "Get Up and Use Me").

So, we here find the best band in Edinburgh at the moment opening for one of the best in the city's history. That Aberfeldy are named after a sleepy Perthshire town and the singer-guitarist, Riley Briggs, used to busk his way around Edinburgh folk-clubs does not bode well on paper. However, there's a reason Geoff Travis made them Rough Trade's next Scottish signing after Belle and Sebastian, and it's plain for all to see. With equal parts janglesome indie-pop, brisk folk and two-part Phil Spector-style girl-group backing-vocals in the mix, a more well-constructed, warm-hearted reaffirmation of fun in pop music you could not hope to hear.

The Glasgow quartet Sons & Daughters are the dark-hearted flipside of Aberfeldy's coin. The singers, Adele Bethel and Scott Paterson, are a couple, which is probably why they present such a convincing interplay onstage, while most of their songs revolve around fractious relationships and heated sexuality. They're like Nick Cave's little cousins, and their dark star will shine in 2005.

The truth is, the Fire Engines have to work hard to look good next to two such sets of talented newcomers. But sometimes hard work, in rock'n'roll terms, is looking like you don't care either way - and Henderson looks like a man with no more damns left to give. A blazing 45-minute set, with fiery renditions of classics such as "Candyskin" and the still unutterably great "Get Up and Use Me", warm thanks to Franz Ferdinand, a proclamation this would be their "last gig ever on planet Earth", and no encore for good measure. It was pure punk and the fans loved it. Not only that, but they've found two bands who are real contenders for hero status in the new year.

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