Villagers, Sneaky Pete's

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The Independent Culture

Between this Edge Festival show going on sale and the date of the performance, Conor J O'Brien and his band have found their debut album, Becoming a Jackal, nominated for a Mercury Prize. So the audience were treated to the rare sight and sound of a group on the crest of a popular wave playing in one of Edinburgh's smallest and most atmospheric venues.

O'Brien started the show alone with an acoustic guitar, his wavering, heartfelt voice echoing the fragile strains of Conor Oberst on tracks such as "To Be Counted among Men" and "Twenty Seven Strangers". As first his keyboard player and then the rest of the band emerged, the set built and built through the Beatles-like guitar pop of "Home" and the album's title track, to the pounding dream-pop of "Ship of Promises", so redolent of Mercury Rev, and finally the absolute pop rush of "That Day" and the winning sentiment of small-town escape of "Set the Tigers Free". It was a set to inspire the notion that the Mercury still has a role to play in bringing worthy under-the-radar talent the attention it deserves.

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