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Kodaline – O2 Academy Glasgow – 06.12.2015
In the really unlikely event that you’ve not heard of Kodaline, they are a four-piece rock band from Dublin, up until 2012 known as “21 Demands”. In 2013 they were nominated for the BBC’s Sound of 2013 along with eventual winners HAIM and our very own CHVRCHES no less.
Jump forward to December 2015 and they are back on the road at the outset of a European-wide tour that will see them take in almost every major European city along the way. The good news is that if you have a ticket for one of shows you are in for a colossal treat and if you don’t there’s still a chance to rectify that.
The stage cover drops to a rapturous reception and launch straight into “Ready” from their latest album “Coming Up for Air”. The stage set comprises of the square video screens at the back of the stage relaying live images and various graphics widgets, occasionally with a really cool monochrome effect. The live images are captured by various static cams set up around the stage.
Lead singer, guitarist and keyboarder Steve Garrigan does a fab job in engaging the eager Glasgow crown into singing along. Although it has to be said that the best music audience in the world don’t really need any encouragement. The set continues with “Way Back When” and “One Day” and “Lost”. During “One Day” I’m still shooting photos but stop for a brief second when the vocals are almost drowned out by 2500 folk between the stage and me – this has the makings of a very special night.
Hearing “High Hopes”, Kodaline remind me a wee bit of German band “Silbermond”, really powerful ballads with a overpowering rock undercurrent that swells to the surface and carries one away on a tidal wave of pleasure. Mark Prendergast’s riff in “High Hopes” is pure magic.
Steve introduced “The One” as a song they wrote of a friend of the band as a wedding present and once again the beautiful sound of a packed Academy accompanies Kodaline.
And I’ve not mentioned the light show yet! Whoever the lighting designer is, he or she knows their stuff. Hot and cold washes, chases, gobos/palettes/strobes are expertly programmed to accompany the music and visuals.
Jason Boland’s bass and Vinny May’s drums in “Honest” are so tight they are almost one. Combined with the collective vocals and light show it’s almost a crescendo and I fear the set is coming to an end. But we’re not there yet, “Love Will Set You Free” is the last number of the set.
The three song encore starts off with for me the highlight of the night, “Everything Works Out In The End”. Steve sets the crowd up to sing the chorus and all four guys sing in perfect harmony. There ‘s no need for superlatives – this is just AWESOME.
“All I Want” is the finale, the band gather around Vinny at the start, and for the last time all the voices, in this unique venue, come together and slowly build up to a mesmerising culmination of strobes and music – pure pleasure.
This has been a very special gig.
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CHVRCHES – Fat Sam’s Dundee – 24.11.2015
This is the second time on four days I’ve had the pleasure of seeing CHVRCHES live. Tonight it’s Dundee’s Fat Sam’s, the previous Saturday it was the O2 Academy in Newcastle. First observation is the venue is much smaller. The stage set up is pretty compact, with a subset of lights compared to the previous show. As I was also shooting photos this does present a wee challenge. A narrow stage and even narrower photo pit make make for great up the nose shots, that no one, not even the most ardent CHVCHES fans really want to see. Challenge accepted, judge for yourself how I did through the link at the bottom of the review.
Anyway this is about one of Scotland’s most talented musical exports in years. For anyone reading that has had their head in a bucket for the last while, CHVRCHES are Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and Lauren Mayberry a three-piece electro band from Glasgow formed in 2011.
CHVRCHES released their second album “Every Open Eye” in September. Releasing a follow up to such a critically acclaimed debut, is no mean feat but they totally nailed it.
The set-list for this sold out show is a cool mix up of songs from “The Bones of What You Believe” and “Every Open Eye”. In Newcastle Lauren announced early on that they have more than 10 songs this time so folk will have to stay a bit longer. But this is the first time they have played Dundee, quite amazing when you look at how many shows CHVRCHES play each year. Before he takes over vox for “Under The Tide”. Martin tells that he played Dundee with other bands on many occasions but this is the first time with CHVRCHES and he is really excited about it.
We even get a wee chance to see some of Lauren’s drumming skills on “Playing Dead” along with some really cool light effects. This show is so amazingly well and professionally put together. Such a pleasure to see those at the top of their game at work.
Anyone that has seen a CHVRCHES show will know that Lauren is not short of a story or two, tonight is no exception. She tells how Iain and Martin enjoyed a curry, a couple of hours before the previous night’s show in Aberdeen. We’re then given a very witty and adequately detailed picture of the impact on this had on the tour bus post gig.
The band finish up the first part of their set with “Clearest Blue” they leave the stage with to a wall of noise, these punters are not ready to go home, they want more.
A few minutes later the band re-emerged to a huge applause that eventually quieten down when the carpet of keys that Afterglow floats upon started to fill auditorium. For me this was the highlight of the night, Lauren’s voice delivered the moving lyrics absolutely perfectly. It was a truly spine tingling and very special three minutes.
Lauren then introduces the last song of the night and the place goes ballistic when the first notes for “The Mother We Share” ring out. Everyone is singing along to the point that I can’t hear the vocals above the masses around me.
There’s something very beautiful about CHVRCHES music and I can’t quite put my finger on it. The lyrics are accomplished yet somehow vulnerable. They are carried with strong rhythms and catchy melodies that I can totally lose myself in. Like every gifted vocalist I know, Lauren’s voice distinctively special. The first time I heard Lauren sing it was one of these rare moments when hearing a vocal for the first time, I stopped what I was doing turned up the volume, engrossed in the beautiful sound of her voice.
It’s a really treat to see how much Iain and Martin are absorbed in each song they play, these guys are into what they do and that comes across. CHVRCHES are not just up there banging out the same tunes every night they are delivering their art to your ears, carefully crafted and served with an embracing passion.
The band are mid flight now on a world tour that has seen them in America, Europe, now the UK, then back to America before and after Christmas then on to Asia, Australia before heading back to Germany in April. There will be a show in Glasgow next year – keep every eye open for it!
Kerri Watt – BBC Quay Sessions Glasgow – 15.07.2015
On a warm summer evening last week, Kerri Watt joined Billy Sloane on BBC Scotland’s The Quay Sessions on the banks of the Clyde. Sandwiched PRIDES and GUN, Kerri performed a 6 song strong acoustic set to a privileged audience.
Kerri introduces the first song “Maybe” as one she wrote with a broken heart. Kerri’s soulful voice with a slight twang echoes throughout the ground floor of BBC HQ in Glasgow captures everyone’s undivided attention.
Keri has just finished a very successful UK tour supporting The Overtones and she will be on a UK tour again in the autumn.
She introduces the next song “Who’s loving me now” which was her debut single. She relays how the video filmed in a vintage car, with camera mounted on bonnet. She had to sing directly into the camera and drive at the same time, a rather dangerous but in the end successful venture.
“Intuition” is next. A song which Kerri explains was written after a long night of emotional discussion and means a lot her. The song is about being comfortable about what you believe in. In the lyrics she declares intuition as her religion. This is a very honest and beautiful ballad. With only her guitar as accompaniment Kerri’s music fills the hall to the rafters.
We are then treated to her new single “Long way home”. This is a true power ballad produced by Richard McNamara of Embrace. Tonight’s acoustic version lacks some of the drama of the full band version but somehow Kerri still manages to portrait the emotion in this lovely ballad. If you haven’t already seen is, check out the accompanying and incredibly engrossing video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4ABvDJ78Ww.
Next up is a cover version of Paolo Nutini ‘s “Candy” which she performs with the same passion and soothing melodic voice.
Kerri closed her short set with “Paris”, a really catchy upbeat song about the challenges of keeping a distant relationship on the go when on the road.
For those that know her music though social media/EPs, this short live performance offers another facet to her music. There is no doubt that Kerri Watt is a gifted songwriter and she can also deliver a spell binding live performance. This is the second time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Kerri live and I’m already looking forward to her return to Glasgow on Monday 5th October at the ABC, miss her at your pearl!
One Last Secret – Broadcast 24.04.2015
Broadcast will have seen many a good night in the past and there is a distinct air of excitement that this is going to be another occasion as the crowd gather for tonight’s Album launch from Ayrshire four piece One Last Secret.
OLS have been together for about 3 years now, speaking to lead guitarist Fraser McBride before the gig he agreed that this is a considerable milestone for the band to reach and one that they have put a huge amount of work into writing, recording and producing. Along the way the band have built up a sizeable following of fans. They have also done their bit for charity, they were one of the headline acts at last year’s successful OxJam Glasgow festival.
But back to this evening, as to be expected at an album launch there is a contingent of family and friends but here but there is also a large number of fans/punters the crowd who are well warmed up by support acts Between Mockingbirds and Start Static. OLS take to the stage and dive straight into their new single “Sidelines”. Frontman Wesley Scott starts off on a quite note underpinned by a catchy guitar riff from Liam McNamara until the song explodes into a wall of rock, built on a foundation of rhythm from Darren James’s kit and Wesley’s bass. At this point everyone is on board, there’s not one person standing still.
There is an unambiguous connection between the guys on the stage and audience, evident in the banter between songs that grows as the night goes on. It is also distinctive understanding between that these guys, not only musically but the onstage humour does not get lost on the increasingly bouncy punters.
The set continues with a lot of tracks from the new album along with older better known songs one of my favourites “Light it Up”. They also slip in a couple of covers in their set. In between songs there’s even time for a crowd photo all posing the OLS Shh.
There is a variety in the band with Liam singing solo on ‘Let Me Be (Do It My Way)” from the band’s first EP. Towards the end of the set Fraser McBride ditches his guitar to take the mic for a version of The Killer’s “Somebody Told Me”, foot on the wedge he leans forward almost into the front row teasing them with “bring it back down tonight”
The set draws to a close with “Coral” one of their earlier singles and yet another example of a wonderful catchy song. The band leave the stage to rapturous applause, the punters head to the door, they will be hard pushed to see a better set at Broadcast this year.
It is enigmatic that this band remain unsigned. They have all the attributes to make it very big, great work ethic, professional management, the ability to connect with their audience but above all a truly huge sound and in Wesley Scott a very talented singer and songwriter.
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Celtic Connections Roaming Roots Review – Royal Concert Hall Glasgow – 18.01.2015
Only in it’s third year, Roaming Roots has fast become one of the highlights at Celtic Connections. Hosted by songwriter Roddy Hart, backed by his fantastic band The Lonesome Fire, this was an evening of collaborative performances by diverse artists from across the globe. Each year the evening takes on a different them and this year the chosen them was harmony singers. In total we were treated to 12 different acts performing a mix of their own material with tributes to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Everly Brothers and Teenage Fanclub.
The first half kicked off with Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire and “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Wake Up Little Susie” before introducing The Parkington Sisters who launched into “Inside My Head” from their latest offering “Me You Us” followed by a lovely rendition of “To Love Somebody”. This was a combination of piano and guitar, sweet vocals with a couple of violins added in, backed up by the house band.
Next up were The Rails, made up of married couple Kami Thompson and James Walbourne. They served up “Habit” from their debut album “Fair Warning”, their traditional rock folk sound topped off with two very soulful voices.
The Australian born Canadian Ruth Moody and her band followed with a couple of numbers, the second was a moving rendition of the fab four’s “In My Life”.
There were only a few empty seats in the main auditorium of Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. The majority of the audience mainly of the thirty five plus generation showed their appreciation for every act. I had the feeling that they would have been up for more of a sing along but it was one of these concerts where although the music and talent was undeniably brilliant, performers and audience didn’t quite join together in the manner I would have anticipated.
Ruth Moody was succeed onto the stage by Irish duo The Lost Brothers with “Derridae” from their latest album “New Songs of Dawn and Dust“, if you’re not familiar with their music check them out, “Derridae” is a right ear worm.
Onwards with Californian Grant Lee Phillips performing one of his best known songs “Fuzzy” , Grant was then joined on stage by Howe Gelb, also on guitar. Together we were treated to a cover of Elvis’s “Pale Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”, their harmonies blending seamlessly together.
The only way to follow was for Roddy to be joined on stage by Dawn Landes. Dawn’s gentle vocals hanging in the air throughout “Thirteen”.
The first half was brought to an end when sisters Allison and Catherine Pierce aka LA based The Pierces entered the frae, performing “Kathy’s Song” before Roddy Heart and The Lonesome Fire joined them in a resounding version of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain“.
The second half of the show kicked off with a couple of number from Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire before we were introduced to our own Rachel Sermanni accompanied by Colin MacLeod on guitar. This was the first time I had hear Rachel’s distinctive and truly beautiful voice it certaibly won’t be the last. Together with Colin on vocals for “Easy Way Out”, their vocals harmonised impeccably.
The line-up for the evening was completed with the introduction of New Zeeland’s Tiny Ruins. Tiny accompanied by the house band a very elegant lady on bass, gave us “Straw Into Gold” followed by “Dreams”.
The evening continued with a selection of performances from all the acts during the second half of the show. There were some very memorable renditions of some well-known tunes. I particularly enjoyed The Lost Brothers version of “All I Have To Do Is Dream” and Rachel Sermanni and Colin MacLeod performing “The Boxer“, that did have everyone humming along.
The finale saw all the artists on stage together giving it laldy for “Mrs Robinson” and “All You Need Is Love”, with folk up on their feet and really getting joined in, now this was more like the concerts I’ve experienced in Glasgow. As the stage emptied to a standing ovation, we were sent on our way with a reprisal of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” Roddy Hart and The Lonsome Fire closing the show as it had started.
This was one really enjoyable concert. There can be no doubt the level of talent was truly breath taking. One thing that came over strongly over the course of the evening was that every single one of these amazing artists, was loving what they were doing playing their part in Roaming roots Review 2015.
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The Silencers – Òran Mór Glasgow – 27.12.2014
If this were football match report it would detail 5-0 walk over. This was the first of a two-night stint for The Silencers at Òran Mór. The show consisted of two sets each lasting an hour with a 15-minute break between. The band came on to a warm welcome launching into “Painted Moon” from their 1987 album “A Letter From St Paul”.
The Silencers have been around for a long time now, I recall first listening to them back in the 90s in Hamburg where they had a large and loyal following. Like some other of our Celtic musical exports they have enjoyed more success on mainland Europe mainly in Germany and France than at home but this is a sort of homecoming. The crowd, in a packed Òran Mór, is mainly the wrong side of their thirties but that does not deter them from really getting into the gig especially when the band reach the fifth song in the set, “Scottish Rain” a melancholic song about love and the fallout form Chernobyl.
Front man Jimmie O’Neill leads, the now seven-piece band, with his distinctive voice and addictive guitar riffs from one catchy song to the next. The three guitars, bass, drums, violin and vocals all blend pretty seamlessly together, the sound level is extremely high but expertly mixed. Each musical component is audible in it’s own right, while at the same time protagonist in a perfect musical picture.
There are a couple, for me, of lesser-known songs in the middle of the first set with Answer Me and Incredible Creature before “Sylvie” from the much acclaimed album “Seconds of Pleasure“. The first set finishes with “This Is Serious” from “Dance to the Holy Man”.
The second set gets under way with the title track of their 1999 album “Receiving”. Jimmie then introduces the next song “Bank Manager“, a song about the greed of the financial sector. Ironically this song stems from 1991 – I guess some things just don’t change.
The crowd take over at the end of “Bulletproof Heart“. In a turn around the band join back in with the festivities!
At the start of the gig, the atmosphere was good and loud but it surges to a whole new level when Jimmie announces “Okay Glasgow, this one is for you” and Òran Mór collectively goes nuts for the entire duration of “The Real McCoy“. This really is a special moment. There is a visible bond between the band and their audience.
The three-song encore starts with “Wild Mountain Theme“, simply a perfect vocal performance from Aura O’Neill. The show closes as it started with “Painted Moon“.
In 2014 I’ve seen a lot of gigs, this is definitely one of my highlights. As Òran Mór empties, the chorus of “Bulletproof Heart” can be heard as folk make their way down Byres Road. The Silencers are playing a second night at Òran Mór on Sunday 28th, if you can get along this is one gig you do not want to miss.
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Nina Nesbitt – The Arches Glasgow – 05.12.2014
The first time I saw Nina Nesbitt she sang the national anthem at a full Hampden Park in September 2013 before the international against Belgium. At the time, I thought she did very well against a full house of the Tartan Army hell bent on singing at a different tempo. Fast forward 14 months and this is now the fourth time I have had the pleasure in photographing her live show. This time the venue is The Arches in Glasgow, with its unique form and fantastic acoustics.
Nina comes on stage to a huge welcome form the sold out crowd, the majority of who are in her own age group and gender. This is going to be a stripped back show with only her on the guitar and piano, accompanied for half of the set by her guitarist Tommy Ashby.
This is a different sound to the very rounded, perhaps a touch plastic sound of her debut album “Peroxide“. For this show she has moved away from that radio ready, highly dynamic compressed sound that we are used to from a certain TV show.
The performance starts off with “Apple Tree” a song that everyone seems to know the lyrics with everyone in Arches soon singing along.
She has rapport with her audience that many a more established artists would be proud of. This is evident when she invites 3 members of the audience up to sing “Way in The World“. She wastes no time on coming down from the stage to pick up her three guests, who collectively suffer stage fright and do not contribute as much to the backing vocals as they were meant to do.
Next up is a new song called “Avalon“, Nina requests for the song not to be videoed, and she embarks into a gentle melody about meeting someone who you really like and taking them to a special place. As mushy as the song may sound her performance is very believable.
She continues with the set moving between piano and guitar playing a selection of songs from both her album and EP. Nina announces the next song as her favourite on the album, the song was also the last one written only a week before the album was finished. “The Hardest Part” is about a romantic break up that lingers. Again this rendition is very convincing.
She closes the show with probably her best-known song “Stay Out“, which made it in to the UK top 20, to date her highest chart position. The audience sing along loudly to this as well as they have done to the majority of her other songs.
Not only has Nina a beautiful voice. She can write some pretty dam good lyrics, from moving ballads like “The Hardest Part” to the really catchy songs like “Apple Tree“.
There is no doubt that Nina Nesbitt has an abundance amount of talent and her future should be very bright indeed, one can only hope that she is allowed to develop her discernible song writing talent to its full potential.