Peering over CDs beginning with the letter ‘D’ to watch a stripped-down acoustic set at a record store probably isn’t the best way to judge the merits of a rock band, but you’d be surprise at just how much you can learn from such surroundings.
It’s immediately evident there’s something very endearing about THE XCERTS and, in particular, singer Murray MacLeod. His parents have clearly done a good job in bringing him up given that his humble, self-deprecating manner couldn’t be more different from the usual jaded frontman routine.
The Aberdonian’s paranoia about his anxiety is a recurring theme of his between-song banter. Murray tells the 200 or so shoppers-turned-spectators how he has been forced to change how he plays Aberdeen 1987 because he gets so nervous his little finger trembles on the guitar string. Later on in the 30-minute performance to promote the release of their album In The Cold Wind We Smile he despairs at his decision to wear a grey T-shirt with the Lynx not doing its job.
The ease with which The Xcerts translate meaty tracks such as Cool Ethan and the exceptional Crisis In The Slow Lane into acoustic versions is testament to the quality of their songwriting, one of several aspects of the band that draws inescapable comparisons to Biffy Clyro.
You can also add the fact they are Scottish, attract a devoted fanbase and have created a debut album that stands out a mile from the competition.
If, like Biffy, they’re prepared to tough it out for the long-term, the rewards for The Xcerts could be very great indeed. We’re looking forward to the journey, that’s for sure.