Dan Andriano / Sam Russo - Live in Edinburgh (Cover Artwork)

Dan Andriano / Sam Russo

Live in Edinburgh (2015)

live show

Walking through the cold November rain to see Dan Andriano In The Emergency Room at Edinburgh's Electric Circus, I was prepared to come away disappointed. Hurricane Season hadn't done too much for me, and I hadn't yet spent enough time with Party Adjacent. Plus Frank Turner was playing in Glasgow the same night, and part of me thought I should really be there instead. But, swayed by a cheaper ticket, lower travel costs, a smaller venue with better beer and the kind of early curfew I appreciate more the older I get, I'd chosen Dan.

I arrived just as BRO got things started. Frontman and guitarist Julian Harding apologised for his lack of energy, blaming it on a stomach bug caused by a reduced price Nisa Local sandwich. There may have been no jumping around but they made a lot of noise for a duo, with some impressively powerful drumming from Garth Vickers. They also pulled off the not inconsiderable feat, for a bassless duo, of sounding absolutely nothing like the White Stripes. More indebted to grunge and '90s Britrock, they're worth keeping an eye on.

Next up was Sam Russo. I've seen him play a lot in the last couple of years, and he never disappoints. "Nobody's Fool" made for a pleasant but low key start, and Russo's warm voice and understatedly excellent storytelling quickly won over a crowd initially reluctant to leave the bar area. Perhaps influenced by the Scottish weather on a day that ranged from dreich to downpour, his setlist was largely downbeat. But he was his usual affable self, complying with a fan request to play the gloomy "Storm" but commenting "Christ alive, you must be miserable as sin!" before "Runaways" provided a welcome increase in tempo. Surprisingly, he actually played more from 2012's Storm than the recently released Greyhound Dreams, but it mattered little -- having been road-testing them for so long, even the newer songs sounded like old friends.


Nobody’s Fool

Bars Like These

Dry Shampoo

Holding On



Western Union

Fifteen minutes later Dan Andriano took the stage, backed by the "UK tour edition" of the Emergency Room: Russo on second guitar, BRO drummer Garth now on keyboards, and two thirds of Bangers, Andrew and Hamish, on bass and drums respectively. Definitely more animated than the last time I saw him with Alkaline Trio, Andriano put his heart and soul into the performance. Sweat darkening his t-shirt, veins on his neck bulging, he tore through a Party Adjacent-heavy set, rocking the hell out of songs about homesickness, self-doubt and straining, fracturing relationships.

The sound quality wasn't amazing, with the vocals perhaps a little low in the mix, but the full band setup was a nice contrast after Russo's acoustic meanderings. I'd seen Andriano sans Trio twice before, in 2011 and '12, and been struck by two things: playing solo acoustic, his non-Trio material sounded a little samey and one-paced after a while; and his sets at the time leaned heavily on crowd-pleasing Good Mourning songs. Not any more: now there was no lack of confidence in the new material, no let-up in energy and no need to fall back on Trio songs.

Five of the first six songs, and nine of fifteen in total, came from this year's Party Adjacent, including a powerful opening salvo of "Fire Pit", "Lost" and "Wait". But it was some of the Hurricane Season tracks that proved the real revelation. The title track and, especially, a storming run through "Let Me In" showed how much better these songs sound played live with a full band than they did on a record that, for me, felt a little unfinished.

After "Let Me In", most of the band filed offstage, leaving Dan to play "It's Gonna Rain All Day" - usually a fair bet at this time of year - acoustic backed only by keyboards, then "Hollow Sounds" completely solo. "Me And Denver" was almost derailed by a broken string, necessitating a mid-song switch from acoustic to electric that proved strangely effective. Capturing the earnest catchiness of his best Trio songs, "Me And Denver" is classic Andriano, coming straight from the Big Book of Drunken Singalongs. The band returned for another long stretch of new material, before Dan went solo acoustic again for the closing "From This Oil Can". It too has that memorable simplicity that Andriano just nails sometimes. He's come a long way since "Enjoy Your Day".

In Alkaline Trio, Andriano functions as a more nuanced songwriting foil to Matt Skiba, painting in subtler shades of grey where Skiba favours broad strokes of black and red. That contrast is a huge part of why I love the Trio (see also: The Lawrence Arms), and I missed it on Hurricane Season. I'm a big fan of Andriano being gently miserable, but I kept waiting for a Skiba song to turn up and bludgeon me about the head. The full band approach of Party Adjacent felt like a huge step forward, and on stage it really brought the Hurricane Season songs to life too. It didn't hurt that the whole band, Russo in particular, spent the whole set looking absolutely delighted to be sharing a stage with Dan.

I was prepared to come away disappointed. I left feeling anything but.


Fire Pit



Hurricane Season

Eye Contact


Let Me In

It’s Gonna Rain All Day

Hollow Sounds

Me And Denver


Haunt Your House

Pretty Teeth

Snake Bites

From This Oil Can