Start to End have taken on some icons in their few years of playing together; Buckley’s Grace, 1989 by Taylor Swift and the music of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater among them. Heaven or Las Vegas presents its own challenges, not least of them having to work out what ‘Dear Liz’ is actually saying in order to learn the worlds as Zoe Graham tells us. Graham and Rachel Lightbody, sharing vocal duties tonight in a sweltering Summerhall are up to the task though, hitting pitch perfect harmonies and the elongated ululations of Grangemouth’s finest with genuinely impressive vocal control, Lightbody in particular exhibiting a rare level of specificity and range.
One of the nicer aspects of this project is the ability for musicians to put ego aside and wear their influences on their sleeve – there’s a tangible joy to this performance, a real love of the material that sees the band beaming at each other as they bounce melody lines back and forth. Graham and Lightbody seem like they’re having a great time, an effusive enjoyment of each other’s performances shining out of the stage in the little kicks and flicks.
The format of Start to End – that is, playing the whole album in order – does have its limitations, and Heaven or Las Vegas is particularly front-loaded in terms of hits. The second side tracks into the coke-induced paranoia that plagued the band meaning the weighting of the night is a little off. Closing track ‘Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires’ provides a hopeful conclusion in the complex weaving layers that are delicately handled by the band that features Joe Rattray of Admiral Fallow and Craig McMahon ex of Pronto Mama.
The Cocteau Twins are a difficult comparison to invite, evidenced by the lack of artists who attempt their songs – although Miley Cyrus’ cover is a banger – but this band pull it off and look like they’re having a whole lot of fun doing it.