Vistas @ EBGBS, Liverpool – 25/08/21

Lewis Ridley enjoys his return to gigs with a visit to EBGBS.

It has been these nights we have missed. A climb down the steps from Seel Street into the catacombs of EBGBS on a Wednesday night has evaded us for so long, the opportunity for a truly intimate gig that brings you closer to a band or artist in more ways than one. On this night, that would be Edinburgh three-piece Vistas, armed with their new album What Were You Hoping to Find? that they’re currently taking across the country in stripped-back, in-store fashion.

When the music industry was turned upside down last spring, the removal of gigs and in-person events shifted the way in which bands could continue to develop in a way we had never seen before. It means that Vistas have now released their first two albums in consecutive years, under a cloud that has meant that they have been unable to be given the run-outs on stage that they deserve.

It does mean, though, that with 2020’s Everything Changes in the End and their sophomore record, released last week, Vistas are champing at the bit to return to live action – now with six singles, an EP and two LPs in their armoury. A fine way to have spent a tricky year or so.

The band arrive on stage at a time when they are heading towards a second Top 40 slot, and with them are a band of followers that greet every track with joyful cheers. 

Clara Engel: Dressed in Borrowed Light – “a serene journey”

Their set, a stripped-back collection, mixes between their two albums. The highlight of the early numbers is 15 Times, while 2018 single Calm is an old favourite from many moons ago when these sorts of nights were standard. 

Whilst Prentice Robertson is the showman of the three, it’s Dylan Rush that seems to enjoy this environment most. Perhaps he’s sampled Seel Street’s ale houses since mid-morning, but more likely he’s confident and relaxed in his work – providing backing vocals to tracks like Tigerblood.

In fact, the three work tightly, there’s a chemistry bands spend years trying to find that seems to have found this band.

What Were You Hoping to Find? itself is an energetic record, vibrant and bursting with zest, much like their debut. The difference, though, is that this release is far more dynamic. Their first record felt, at times, one-paced and lacking momentum or tension. It was fellow Scot, The View‘s Kyle Falconer, that mentioned mid-performance once the importance of the odd slow track to allow everyone, including the band, to catch their breath. 

In the age of streaming and playlists, one could forgive a band or label for moving the construction of an album down the list of priorities, but perhaps one of What Were You Hoping To Find?‘s best assets is it being indicative of their development as a band in this sense. It’s also telling that when discussing their favourite moments of the record, two of the band picked out slower tracks, this band are all about progression.

They left EBGBS stage after a short, 30-minute set, the type which – as is so crucial at this level – keep the crowd wanting more.

Vistas will tour the UK in full flight next month, with dates in Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds all already sold out. They’ve earned support slots with The Courteeners, including a London date alongside fellow Scot Brooke Coombe, in November. Then, in December, they’ll end the year with two dates at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom

They’re a band certainly keen to waste no more time than has already passed them by, and given the momentum they are building, why not?

Vistas’ What Were You Hoping to Find? is out now on Retrospect Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.

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