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They Might Be Giants, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

  • Written by  Cassandra Harrison

When asked if I wanted to cover this performance, the teenaged me mentally shouted Yes! Of course! Hits like 'Don’t Lets Start', 'Istanbul', 'Whistling In The Dark' and 'Particle Man' flitted through my mind in quick succession. So, clearly, they entered my scene in 1990 with Flood. They entered the Queen’s Hall scene with 'The Communists Have The Music'. They also entered the scene playing to a sold out crowd, many of which were sporting t-shirts through the TMBG ages and stages.  A group of TMBG Super Presidents were flocking to the stage in front of us. As was expected, the band played several numbers from their latest album, I Like Fun. 'Let’s Get This Over With' was a crowd favourite.

The chat from the band was excellent. They clearly enjoy performing together. This trip they were accompanied by Curt Ramm on trumpet, whose talent ‘is contagious.’ Their joy extends to involving the audience in their chat and observations from their travels of the tour so far. One was faced with the confusing vision of pastries served upon a stone for his birthday during his stay in Edinburgh. Ah yes. The ubiquitous slate and how handily it dumps all your food onto the floor if not held perfectly parallel to the ground. Physics. I’m sure they understand that.

John Linnell talked about his walk through passport control and how usually one can be expected to be met with a seriously unhappy, unsmiling person.  Instead, when he said he was travelling with his band They Might Be Giants, the guy behind the glass started singing lines from 'Birdhouse In Your Soul'.

John Flansburgh, the other founder and writer, mentioned the “sweet life of the 1%,” referring to the people sitting high up in the balcony. There was mention of their having left a country going through difficult times to tour in a country where everything was peaceful and sorted. Long pause …

At one point Flansburgh orchestrated the band and the audience, gesticulating towards which part of the ensemble was to make a noise. I wouldn’t say we made beautiful music, however it was interesting.

During intermission, I took in the crowd and was pleased to see different ages representin’. There were parents with their teen to 20-something year old children, a group of youngsters that had stumbled upon the band through their own curiosity, the mid-lifers (ehem, my crew I think) and beyond. During the intermission, very confusingly, 'Walk This Way' with Run DMC and Aerosmith played on the large screen to a completely different soundtrack. Just another thing to add to the quirkiness of the performance.

I was hanging out next to the stage, close to where Linnell’s accordion lived, with Main Squeeze stickered onto it. I thought that rather hilarious. What I did not find hilarious where the two tall dudes standing in front of me, tipping their heads towards each other every 10 seconds to talk. Please be mindful of the shorties behind you that want to fully enjoy the experience and not have to peep around your heads whilst you talk about what? That cool thing that was done on the guitar? What you had for breakfast? The state of the country? That can wait.

They were called back to the stage for two additional encores, both planned for but hey, these guys are great on the showmanship. The set ended with 'Fingertips' and the audience playing along.

Something to watch out for: the band will be releasing an animation to go along with 'The Communists Have the Music' this week. We were encouraged to share this on all of our social media channels.

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