Live Review: LIFE / Isabella Strange – Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh 15.12.2021

LIFE onstage in Edinburgh
Credit: Julia Mason

In January 2020 at Rockaway Beach festival the Hull four-piece LIFE produced an electrifying set in an afternoon slot. Chatting to bassist Lydia after the gig, they said they were all set for a spring tour, including my home town of Edinburgh at the independent venue Sneaky Pete’s. Little did we know what was around the corner and this gig finally took place this week 18 months later than scheduled.

The opener was the Edinburgh/Glasgow band Isabella Strange. And they got the party started, warming up the crowd perfectly for LIFE. The four-piece had recently supported Do Nothing and are holding their own when it comes to producing performances which entertain an audience who may not have seen them before.

The band Isabella Strange onstage
Credit: Julia Mason

And then LIFE appeared onstage. It felt pretty emotional to be at a gig you have thought about for a year and a half. It adds to the whole surreal nature of the times we currently find ourselves in. It has been wonderful seeing our favourite bands tour again, and anticipating when they are coming to the venue in our own towns and cities. LIFE are meant for live performance and led by Mez Green we were off at a blistering pace.

Their third album is well underway and like many bands they have missed the opportunity to properly tour their current album, but that did not lessen the gig tonight. A set that included a mix of old and new, and a band who were delighted to be back out on the road.

The set had tracks from both Popular Music and A Picture of Good Health. “Moral Fibre”, “Hollow Thing” and “Grown Up” from the latter second album are typical LIFE, confronting the realities of life on a very personal level. But its all delivered with such energy. Both Mez and bassist Lydia ended up in the crowd and this is typical of LIFE and their joyous performances. Current single ‘Friends Without Names‘ is very different for the band. It is much longer than their post-punk blasts of exuberance, and has a denser sound with more instrumentation. Is this what we can expect from album No. 3? But for tonight we finish with the triple whammy that is “Excites Me”, “Bum Hour” and “Half Pint Fatherhood”, which is very close to Mez’s heart, as it’s about his son.

Sadly LIFE had to cancel their last two shows on this tour which appears to the norm again for the moment. Let’s just hope it isn’t another 18 months before we can see our favourite bands back in our favourite venues.

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