The Mash House is packed and spilling out onto the street. Everyone is gathered for the triumphant return of Neon Waltz to Scotland for their 2019 UK tour. The band nonchalantly takes the stage and open with the mystical chords of ‘Bare Wood Isles’. In the five years that have passed since this song, their first ever single was released, Neon Waltz have been launched into fame. They released an exceptional debut album Strange Hymns in 2015 and earned the attention of former Oasis manager Marcus Russell and Atlantic Records along the way (though they split from Atlantic after the label began meddling with their sound). This is what sets Neon Waltz apart: they remain untainted and authentic. At the isolated northernmost tip of Scotland Neon Waltz developed their unique dreamy sound which can fill a venue with the same mystery today as it did five years ago.
For those growing up in the windswept highlands of Scotland, career options are limited, to say the least, and forming a successful indie rock band is definitely not one of them. However, Neon Waltz clearly has no intention of abiding the rules set before them as they testify on the song ‘Dreamers’. Without much of a prevalent music scene in their home of John O’Groats, Neon Waltz set about creating their own. The sound they’ve produced is raw and pure and has gained a cult following that reaches far beyond the highlands. Neon Waltz has undoubtedly proved that talent isn’t just to be found in the city. Frontman Jordan Shearer’s statement of, “we’re from John O’Groats” is met with a cheer from the sold-out Edinburgh crowd and it seems that isolation may have been a blessing rather than a curse for the band.
The setlist at The Mash House perfectly balances languid crowdpleasers from their debut album such as ‘Dreamers’ and ‘Sundial’ with more uptempo guitar focused recent releases ‘The Stranger Things’ and ‘Friends Who Lost Control,’ which was released on Ignition Records only a few days earlier. The crowd welcomes the bands new singles to their repertoire with open arms, a promising sign perhaps for their long-awaited upcoming second album. Neon Waltz performs with a calm and totally unpretentious air. Shearer closes his eyes, wholly in the moment, seemingly as entranced by their sound as the audience is. As the set draws to a close, the band is silhouetted by warm lights and it’s clear they are living a dream beyond any of their expectations. With no sign of slowing down and new releases on the horizon, it looks like their dream is set to continue.
Image: Schweini via Pixabay