Pictish Trail @ Crofter’s Rights, Bristol, 06/12/2017

Pictish TrailAs the soothing warbles and space-like blues profuse from the Crofter’s Rights back room to start Pictish Trail’s performance, you can’t help but ponder on the venue choice. Cosy and intimate, it’s a drastic difference to the venues of his last tours including The Louisiana and Colston Hall’s Lantern. Pictish Trail aka Johnny Lynch has lost the full band, instead choosing to perform with support act Monoganon on electric guitar and a keyboard player for a much smaller output. He reflects on this himself, “Last time we were here, we played with a full band and it’s been loud and obnoxious. Now, we’ve gone for more of an intimate venue, still obnoxious but not loud. And not due to my decreasing popularity,” he jokes.

Considering his latest album, Future Echoes, amid its pop sentiments and diverse melodies, it’s an unexpected move. But as the performance gets underway, it’s clear the pop element has been stripped back and refined. Johnny Lynch’s acoustic guitar brings a moody, folk element with hints of electronica and punchy soundscapes coming from electric guitar and keys. The trio themselves sport glittered faces and matching boiler suits, a nudging reminder of the pop element to the exposed performance.

From the personal reflections of “Lionhead” to the slowed down rendition of “Dead Connections”, the acoustic guitar leads the performance with folk-y assurance with the pop-tinged synths taking the back seat. The soothing glow from the disco ball above catches Pictish Trail’s glittered faces every now and again in a moment of quiet, almost spiritual, reflection. Gorgeous melodies exasperate Johnny Lynch’s vocal arrangements, reaching impressive heights with ballad-like oomph.

As Johnny Lynch tells us of his near-death experience, hence the birth of his latest album, the slightly toned down performance comes to fruition. Taking inspiration from mortality, finality and the current climate, the pop seems almost an oxymoron. With poignancy, they play “Easy with Either”, complete with car crash noise mid-song.

Between the anecdotes of Hebridean isolation on Eigg, Brexit and expensive M&Ms, Pictish Trail perfects the switch between reflective musician to joker in mere seconds. He returns alone for an encore with a Christmas tune. “Don’t get too excited,” he interjects, “it’s one that I wrote”. Solo, with acoustic guitar in hand, he ends the set with slow, festive goodness. Never one to pidgin-hole himself into a genre or style, the show presents a tamer Pictish Trail perhaps. The pop-tinged folk of Future Echoes combined with the latest stripped back performance drives Pictish Trail to somewhere more polished, matured and reflective.


One Response to “Pictish Trail @ Crofter’s Rights, Bristol, 06/12/2017”


  1. Pictish Trail @ Crofter’s Rights, Bristol, 06/12/2017 – Live List - 20/12/2017

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