Pronto Mama storm the Mash House on their UK tour
Glasgow’s Pronto Mama are fast becoming the most exciting band in Scotland. The immediate success of their debut record, ‘Any Joy’, has helped spread their self-described ‘soul pop’ far and wide with an extensive UK tour to boot. The six-piece stopped off at Edinburgh’s Mash House on Friday night and played nothing short of a blinder.
First up is Edinburgh singer, David James Ritchie who impresses with his intricate guitar playing and polished voice. Ritchie’s love songs are reminiscent of the likes of City and Colour and an emotional performance of his best known number, State Of is the marker for a great night ahead.
Next up is Edinburgh oddities Redolent. After the success of their concept album, ‘Juvenility’, the band have been writing like mad. Their vast setup includes a trio of synthesizers crammed into a corner of the stage, drums, bass and guitar. It’s high-octane, challenging and completely mad but the band nail their wholly unique style every time. For fans of Radiohead for sure. Despite a technical glitch towards the end, something which is almost inevitable considering the amount of gear, Redolent impress and the crowd now await the headliner.
It is not until you see Pronto Mama on stage that you can really appreciate the variation in their sound. The slightly beatnik looking group include a punchy brass section, ultra locked in bass and drums, indie rock guitars and soaring synth, all of which somehow combine neatly with a sleek finish, who knows how.
A cheer goes up in the murky Mash House as they sail into Bottom Feeder, the opener to ‘Any Joy’. The harmonies from singers Marc Rooney and Ciaran McEneny are of such high class that can only be achieved through years of bouncing ideas off each other.
Perhaps the peak of Pronto’s groove is on All Your Insides. The sweetness of McEneny’s vibes keyboard and the swing of the brass gets nearly everyone in the place moving. But beneath the instrumentation lies the real art to what these guys do. The lyrics on tracks like The Deserter and Bennie are particularly emotive with talk of too much boozing, loneliness and bittersweet memories all cropping up. A common theme is youthfulness, perhaps no surprise considering four of the six grew up together and first started playing music in a bedroom.
Having two singers is always better than one and it’s no different with Pronto. The two frontmen bounce off each other like Lennon and McCartney, wit included. Rooney’s voice is a lot more guttural and McEneny’s more refined but both bring an extra layer to what is already a multi-faceted mix of funk bass, often heavy guitar and irresistibly groovy brass.
The songs beautifully represent Glasgow’s ability to be endearing, unfalteringly funny and ultimately charming. This is best heard on One Trick Pony, which the group begin with a rendition of an old Irish folk tune, The Auld Triangle, before jumping into the song with it’s jangly guitars reminiscent of fellow Scottish rockers, Bwani Junction. The final joint chorus where McEneny and Rooney both belt out “Is it there for me” is the most powerful coupling of the pair’s voices by far, a true tour de force.
Just as we’ve had our fill, the band dash off the stage to the back of the hall and deliver a stunning a capella rendition of Sentiment which features the heartwarming line: “Should I try or should I just go get pished.” The sweetest of endings.
Pronto Mama’s debut album, ‘Any Joy’ is on sale here.
Words & Images by Jamie McDonald: Channel 7A