Review Of Adam Stafford Gig, Song, By Toad @ The Hidden Festival, Secret Courtyard, Edinburgh – 23/05/15

The second gig of Saturday evening – busy night pop-pickers – and an artist (and I mean that in the truest sense of the word) whom I’ve seen four or five times in recent years and always leaves me awe-inspired by his originality and ingenuity.

Falkirk’s Adam Stafford is a well kent face in some circles for his award winning film-making, but tonight it was his musical persona which took the stage – or should I say Cage(more about that later)- as part of the Song, By Toad series of gigs at the Hidden Door Festival which is running from the 22nd to the 30th of May.

I have been around these parts for decades and thought I knew Edinburgh inside out, but the city never fails to surprise and it did so again as we entered the Secret Courtyard on King Stables Road, a quite magical place I never even knew existed until last night.

David Martin, Creative Director for Hidden Door, is to be congratulated for the programme of music, cinema and art which he has assembled this week.  David says in the programme for the festival “This year I feel that the venue itself may steal the show…” and to some extent he is right, but when you have artists of the calibre of Adam Stafford perfuming then he could be in your back garden and will still steal the show.

What was quite unique about the Secret Courtyard was the plethora of activities going on simultaneously – various art exhibits, live music, etc., etc. – and you needed the programme to try and take best advantage of it all.

Radical Independent Music was there specifically for Mr Stafford, an artist we first saw 4-5 years ago at The Tolbooth in Stirling, when he supported his mates, The Twilight Sad.  That night he came on in trademark shirt, tie and dress trousers, and until he picked-up his Fender Stratocaster I actually thought he must be the band’s manager!  Not very rock’n roll you might think, but Kraftwerk is the one that immediately springs to mind, who also always take to the stage suited and booted.

Adam was performing in the Cage room, and he literally was in a cage as you can see from the photos and video clips below and commented during his set that he was somewhat disappointed that the Cage consisted of chicken wire and not proper bars as he had expected.

Adam Stafford, Song, By Toad At The Hidden Door Festival
Adam Stafford, Song, By Toad At The Hidden Door Festival

IMG_1547 IMG_1546 IMG_1544 IMG_1543 IMG_1542 IMG_1541 IMG_1540 IMG_1539 IMG_1538 IMG_1536

Adam Stafford, Song, By Toad At The Hidden Door Festival
Adam Stafford, Song, By Toad At The Hidden Door Festival

We were able to chat briefly to the man himself as he did his soundcheck – he is very much the self-sufficient troubadour who does his own set-up prior to each gig – and asked how his recent parenthood had changed his rock’n roll lifestyle, given that in December 2013 )when he again supported The Twilight Sad at The Tolbooth) he had announced that he was about to become a father.

We have followed Adam’s music journey since the days of Y’all is Fantasy Island (great name) and his work with with the Falkirk outfit Sweethearts of The Prison Rodeo (another great name for a band).

LP “Imaginary Walls Collapse” released via Song, by Toad Records was one of 2013’s musical highlights and if you haven’t heard it, our recommendation is buy it now, you won’t be disappointed.

Adam has described his music as vocal looping and textural soundscapes and has been quoted as saying “I’d been experimenting with looping and layering vocals before – inspired, primarily, by Steve Reich’s vocal arrangements on Music For 18 Musicians and Edinburgh artist Wounded Knee.”

He does not fit any of the music industry’s typical genre definitions as befits a musician who really is in a league of his own and deserves to be more widely heard and appreciated.

Take a look at the video clips we took during last night’s performance and be prepared to be suitably impressed!

Remember, you can never have enough vinyl, so get out there and buy “Imaginary Walls Collapse” as we await Adam’s new album which he said last night is in the pipeline, prefaced by a new single coming out on Song, By Toad Records.

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