Paul Draper Live in Edinburgh
Date: 26 February
Venue: The Caves, Edinburgh
Support: Sol Croft
Paul Draper arrived in Edinburgh on 26 February on the latest leg of his UK tour. And it says much for the enduring appeal of the former Mansun frontman that he could completely sell-out a venue like The Caves on a cold and miserable school night.
But there were a couple of reasons to be genuinely excited by this tour. Having released his critically acclaimed debut solo album Spooky Action last year, Draper had lots of great new material to perform. And, since it is now 21 years since Mansun released Attack of the Grey Lantern, he and his current band would perform the whole album front to back in the second half of each show.
After singer songwriter Sol Croft had got the evening under way with a short but sweet set of songs, you really could feel the sense of anticipation grow within the Edinburgh audience. After all, this was only the second time that Draper had hit the road as a solo artist, and that he’s recording new material and touring at all is because of an online campaign by his dedicated fans.
So, the first half of Draper’s set consisted of songs from his latest album, Spooky Action. It’s a collection of songs which was a decade in the making and is an uncompromising autobiographical account of his personal struggles since Mansun’s implosion back in 2003.
If writing and recording Spooky Action was some form of catharsis, only Draper can tell us how well it worked. But it didn’t take long here to sense that he was quietly revelling in the occasion. He sounded great, his band was tight as hell, and he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand right from the get go. As an artist, what more could you possibly want? Although lyrically these songs were darker than anything Mansun ever produced, Draper’s ear for melody and willingness to experiment with different musical styles made for a really enjoyable performance.
After a short break, Draper and his band returned to the stage to perform Attack of the Grey Lantern in it’s entirety. I still can’t believe that it’s been 21 years since Mansun released this, their ‘half concept’ album.
It was the kind of occasion when Draper could have given himself a break and handed vocal duties over to the audience. From the opening bars of The Chad Who Loved Me, right through to closing out with the albums hidden final track Lyrical Trainspotter, the audience needed little encouragement to join in and sing along.
Highlight of the evening came with the fifth song from the album. The recorded version of Wide Open Space is – to say the least – pretty damn good, and is the kind of song that any band would kill to have in their armoury. Performed live however, it simply went to another level. There was just such a huge scale and power to the song, and it had the audience absolutely rocking. All those years down the line and the song still kicks anything in the charts today right into the weeds.
It has (obviously) been a long time since Draper last took this material on tour, but you’d never know it. It sounded fresh, contemporary and was performed brilliantly. And his new material demonstrated he’s still got much to offer going forward.
Paul Draper is back. And that is a very good thing. Absolutely brilliant!
Don’t Poke the Bear
The Silence is Deafening
Things People Want
Jealousy is a Powerful Emotion
Friends Make the Worst Enemies
Feeling My Heart Run Slow
Who’s Wearing the Trousers?
The Chad Who Loved Me
Mansion’s Only love Song
You, Who Do You Hate?
Wide Open Space
She Makes My Nose Bleed
Egg Shaped Fred