2023 saw a new addition to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations with UniqueAssembly (Producers of this year’s celebrations) aiming to intertwine the Scottish tradition of “first footing” with a new look festival lineup following the demise of the torchlit procession. The trail of music featured many artists from up and down the country, scattered across a bustling Edinburgh city centre and the event provided as excellent entertainment for those perhaps still going and others who were maybe nursing hangovers from the day before.

Having scoured the programme surveying the various acts across the city, I chose to set camp up at Greyfriars Hall, a certainly atmospheric back drop by which narrow glass windows reached up to high ceilings.

Berta Kennedy was first upon stage, introducing her spin of alternative music to an incredibly receptive crowd. The style of music seemed deeply embedded within the world of organic, homegrown pop-production with nods to influences that could be described as late R&B. The act certainly showed the diversity within Scotland’s music industry and was a perfect start to proceedings.

Dead Pony were next up with the venue seeing a complete change in pace in comparison to the act before. The band crashed through the doors of New Year in spectacular style lining up as a four piece in its simplest form – vocals, guitar, bass and drums. A distorted guitar sound seared through the room backed by some raucous bass playing and a few overdubs through the PA. The Lead vocalist moved across the stage in emphatic fashion, darting from one direction to the next, moving in time with a rapid drum beat. The energetic display certainly did not takeaway from the vocal however, and despite covering enough space to have even the fittest checking their steps, the vocals were projected with a ferocious intensity around the room. As often is the case with free events, it could be imagined that there were some in the room who were not initially familiar with Dead Pony. Rest assured, they do now. A terrific act.

Solo Artist Stina Marie Claire was next to join the stage, tugging at the strings of a reverberating guitar plugged into an solemn 100w amplifier. The performance served as a fantastic example of how a stripped back sound can go a long way. Melancholic vocals matched an atmospheric setting featuring  songs that seemed to desperately provoke reflection. The performance was further enhanced by Stina introducing each song in turn allowing her dry sense of humour to shine through to the audience.

Stina Marie Claire

Last but certainly not least was Swim School. With the venue now at full capacity and now leaving people queuing outside. I couldn’t help but notice that the fashion on display amongst the crowd had slowly eroded into something different. It no longer appeared to encapsulate the idea of a crowd devoid of what to expect. Instead, surrounding the stage was an audience, garnished in clothes more akin to those that were present on stage.

Swim School

The performance started powerfully with a guitar sound that was met with some equally established drums. The band, pinned around a huge guitar sound charismatically sauntered their way through the set consisting of some of their excellent online catalogue. Furthermore, it seemed as if the band were not playing with a live bass player leading me to believe that there must either have been an absence or they had dubbed a backing track at an earlier point. Special mention should also be made to a fantastic performance by the lead Guitarist whose fluent playing and great use of the effects made for a fantastic gig.

All in all the pedigree of the acts who were on show was plain to see and it was no wonder to find out some had been on tours with acts such as the Foo Fighters. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon from which I could not help but feel the inaugural year of First Footin’ was a success.