Star rating: ****

FRIDAY night's concert at the Classic Grand, a great little venue perched atop a former cinema, raised the bar for the rest of the festival. Support came in the shape of one-time indie darlings Shelleyan Orphan, whose performance proved they are more than a footnote to the genre, with plaintive stylings underpinned by the startling vocals of Caroline Crawley.

However, Pumajaw were a more beguiling proposition, comprised of vocalist Pinkie Maclure and guitarist John Wills. While last year's album Curiosity Box was outstanding in its sense of tradition despite its experimentation, their songs are best appreciated live, and if there is a Celtic equivalent to Nico then Maclure is it. Sometimes growling, other times hauntingly angelic, her voice was always utterly engaging.

Wills is a highly accomplished player and his use of loops and samples created a wall of sound that a full-blown band might struggle to craft. Their work together is occasionally reminiscent of early Velvet Underground in terms of narrative and sonic wig-outs. Think John Cale on The Gift and you're getting close.

Maclure is quite an enigma and Pumajaw's effect was heightened by the theatricality of her performance, pacing the mini-proscenium and, witch-like, seducing her audience into a weird and even scary world. And the way she handles the concertina would make the knees of grown men tremble.