“Why are they showing this?” jokes Craig B, noting that the enormous video wall behind them is showing The Shining, in all its nightmarish glory. The reason is of course that The Unwinding Hours (presumably an earlier, frilly-shirted incarnation) were the house band in Kubrick’s cautionary tale of life in the hotel trade.
Whether the hi-tech back projections in Edinburgh’s newest and glitziest indie venue work is open for debate. In this instance, it’s somewhere between a curiousity and a distraction with a constant temptation to check out the visuals, in case the live set is somehow in synch with the film, like Dark Side of the Moon and the Wizard of Oz aren’t.
Fortunately, in full flow The Unwinding Hours are always centre stage, whether via Craig B’s fragile yet impassioned vocal, or through sheer force of sound.
That TUH are a compelling live act is not in doubt, and the surroundings can’t change this. From the opening ‘Knut’ with its incremental buildup to the chant of “we can, we will, we must, get out”, through to a solo ‘Solstice’ that serves as a deserved encore, the focus is on the band who themselves are focused on their craft and united as part of a sonic juggernaut.
‘The Final Hour’ perhaps encapsulates the band – Craig jokes that they prefer to play the track to audiences that don’t know them, and yes, the element of surprise is (as Kubrick might tell you) key, as an aural onslaught hits you square in the chest following a oh-so-quiet build-up. Visually, it’s not quite in ’synch’ with the film, though some bloody explosions lend a suitably gothic air to proceedings.
But as the sound dies down and the final note sounds out Kubrick’s focus falls on Jack’s frozen head.
It’s almost too perfect, but the devoted audience demand an encore. They’re not to be disappointed as Craig returns to perform an Aereogramme tune he’s “had in my head all day” (’Messenger’) followed by ‘Solstice’. The full band then return, now in front of a hall of mirrors for the final denouement in ‘Peaceful Liquid Shell’.
As Craig remarks, Stephen King hated the movie version of his book. What he would have made of the ’soundtrack’ tonight is anyone’s guess, but I suspect The Unwinding Hours Mark 2 would have slotted into the Overlook Hotel’s function suite rather nicely.