A review of Iain McLaughlin & the Outsiders at The Ironworks, Inverness on the 9th of March 2012, by Frank Finlayson. Photos by Thomas Bisset.
There was much anticipation ahead of the launch of Iain McLaughlin and the Outsiders debut album “We Are All Outsiders” (see Getting inside with the Outsiders) as the Ironworks filled steadily prior to them taking to the stage. It made a statement that when recent acts with a national following have played from the floor, the main stage was set up for tonight’s gig. Although not full to the gunnels, the Ironworks served them well tonight.
It was ironic that when discussing the support acts with Iain prior to the event he was a little concerned whether Echo 20 were going to be able to make it up the road by 8. However, it was Defcon One who held up the show with the late arrival of guitarist, Steve Campbell, who was delayed on the bus north. Although this set back the running time of the proceedings slightly, it took nothing away from Defcon One’s performance. The band, minus Shaun Cowan, stepped on stage and revved it up for Shaun to stride on and jump straight into his vocal. The energy was maintained as they rattled straight into their second number. Shaun’s passionate tones drove along this increasingly energetic set. The set was rounded of by “The Ghost”, but not before the power surge that is “Hit The Lights” hit out across the venue.
When chatting with Iain he was full of praise for Echo 20, and from that funky bass opening that gave way to a filthier beat, you could understand why Iain held them in such high regard. They don’t play that regularly apparently, and at times they lacked the tightness you tend to get from accomplished three pieces, but you could not get away from the thunderous noise that they were able to generate.
Soon the hall lights dimmed and purple lights struck out from the stage and across the venue; very much part of the smoke and mirrors that Iain had promised. The atmosphere was set for the imminent arrival of Iain and his Outsiders. And on they strode to jump straight into Break the Cycle followed by the slow burning, but ultimately stirringly triumphant “Rapid Eye Movement”. Through this Iain was holding court from centre stage with Paul and Dave playing their part on the wings with Russell providing the power to drive them along perched up at the drums behind. “The Light” then gave evidence of those peaks and troughs that appeal to Iain within a set.”I Wanna Know” followed this and upped the power once again. Iain was throwing his heart and soul into what was turning into a tour de force performance. The energy emanating from Iain was adding power to the sails of Dave Ramsay who was running on adrenaline following an earlier hernia operation. Although the tempo dropped a notch for “Don’t Look Behind You”, the Outsiders turned to “Rise and Fall” which in Iain’s words is “the most non Rizzle Kicks song they could write”.
There was then a plea for quiet from Iain as they set themselves to play Breathe, for this would be the first time that it had been played live. A change in direction from what we expect from the lads, but it was carried off with a measured and studied assurance. At this point the other band members left the stage for Iain to change the mood again with an acoustic interlude. This led to the hidden secret album track being introduced (or maybe I’m not supposed to tell you that) with Iain using guitar and vocal loops with such gadgetry beyond my comprehension. Taking on an acoustic segment such as this is brave, and you need a lot of mettle to carry it off. At times it was made more difficult by an incessant chatter which was inexplicably building towards the back of the room. As “won’t be alone” repeated out, the band returned to take up the cudgels and beat back against the tide in what was ultimately a very special moment; dangerous but special. As Iain put it, “I shat myself during that!”
Iain had promised the gig would be a crescendo, and with two songs to go it was saved for “Remedy” and “Someone For Everyone” to sound the final rallying call, and, at that point the album was well and truly launched.
They say you get out what you put in, and if that holds true, then Iain McLaughlin and the Outsiders are due some, and more, to come their way.
Further gig pictures here.