TIGERFEST Carnegie Hall, Wednesday 13th -Saturday 16th May _________________________________________   'It"s three minutes past nine,' says JAMES YORKSTON between songs to a sizeable audience. 'The Apprentice has been on for three minutes�I"m just saying what we"re all thinking.' He"s wrong. All are held rapt by the Fifer"s uplifting but melancholic folk on the first night of the four-day Tigerfest.

It"s not unusual for a seated audience to be quiet when listening to an outstanding performer, but the 120 or so people in the stalls tonight are also eerily still.

In the dim half-light they could pass for a seated Terracotta Army suspended in animation by the spell of songs which meander between the other-worldly to the touchingly familiar.  The accordion aches, the double bass throbs and a female band member"s "mouth trumpet" baffles. Stunning stuff.

Earlier, friend and support act LISA KNAPP did something similar -  ingratiating those of us otherwise blasé about folk music.

From electrifying to electronica. Thursday night hosted three bands for whom the laptop is mightier than the lute. Dunfermline"s CRUISER (pictured) sounded immense - a technicolor array of searing guitar, binary blips and vocoder vocals.

This was lost a bit when the two female vocalists joined them for their debut live performance. They sing wonderfully on album happyrobots:smiling people, but live they just lacked Oomph. It"ll come with a few more gigs under their belt, or if keyboard wizard Kev reprograms them. In the meantime, expect them to become the tartan, technotronic Abba.

FOUND merged between the Beatles and blatant showing off. Off-kilter time signatures added little other than a "look what we can do" smugness.

AUDREY SINGS NICO was Friday"s highlight. Now, Nico was apparently a nasty piece of work and a heroin addict with limited talent. Her Warhol-inspired forced association with The Velvet Underground  annoyed the hell out of Lou Reed.

But her deep, deadpan vocals and ice-queen imagery have cemented her in rock history. Edinburgh-based Audrey performs it so true to the original it"s unnerving.

All Tomorrow's Parties, Femme Fatal and I"ll Be You Mirror (written by Reed) were pretty much spot on. The large images of a consistently sullen Nico in the background didn't add much, but never has a covers act been so original.

Earlier, the ROSIE TAYLOR PROJECT played all fey and whimsical, but they 'aint fooling anyone until they throw out their Belle & Sebastian albums and start doing their own thing.

More annoying was missing SAINT JUDE'S INFIRMARY, who were on first. Maybe our agitated state came from no alcohol being allowed into the theatre - sitting watching a band with a bottle of J20 is akin to taking a water pistol on a fox hunt.

Former John Peel "favs" BALLBOY brought Friday to an end. Singer Gordon McIntyre sings about love like no-one else (though he once wrote a song called I Hate Scotland).

The Press missed the Saturday night when LORD CUT-GLASS played as part of cult label Chemikal Underground's showcase night �well we had to catch up on The Apprentice at some point.