A Review of Coast playing at The Ironworks on Saturday the 12th of May, 2012, by Toby Stainton. Photos by Frank Finlayson.
Hailing from Southampton, Coast brought their own brand of celtic-tinged rock music to the Ironworks on Saturday night. Inspired by lead singer Paul Eastham’s time spent in North Uist they could be accused of borrowing heavily from Runrig’s sound. Lots of reverb, big anthemic aor rock tunes and choruses that would sit well in a stadium setting. However this didn’t really match up with a sparsely attended Ironworks and I can’t help feel with an audience of around 100 they might not have been better suited playing somewhere like downstairs in Hoots. However, as is oft the case with Scottish or ‘Celtic Rock’ style bands, I hear they do draw large crowds over on continental Europe.
First song of the night ‘Ruabhal’ included a long drawn out guitar solo bordering on the self indulgent and was in serious danger of sounding like the guitarist was wandering off down ‘Shine On..’ era Pink Floyd. Unfortunately this set the tone for the night and for this reviewer those long, heavy on the reverb guitar solos quickly became tiresome.
The rest of the set was an even spread between their two albums ‘The Turning Stone’ and ‘Coast’ and while they’re undoubtedly a talented group of musicians I struggled to pick out any real stand out tunes. The Runrig comparisons are justified with their Scottish folk inspired guitar hooks and the odd tune with a Gaelic title. But that’s where the comparison ends, at best they came a very distant second place to their Sgiathanach peers.
Lead guitarist Steve Pickens got the opportunity to play a couple of instrumental tunes on acoustic guitar midway through the set, with second song ‘High Hopes’ dedicated to their touring violinist Emma who was taken suddenly ill last week. Pickens is a very talented guitarist and when he puts his mind to it can show real passion and at times breath-taking technique. However he’s prone to show boating and if he left off the extra little flurries and taps then I’m of the opinion his playing would sound all the better for it.
The set continued with a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’ before moving on to a re-working of ‘The Ghost of Dan the Boy’, ‘The Docks of My Hometown’ and crowd pleaser ‘Oceanos’ which finally seemed to bring a bit of life to the Ironworks. It was the final song of the night, an acoustic rendering of ‘The Beat of You’ that eventually pricked my ears. It was a nice and simple song that stuck with me on the way home that evening. Maybe if you strip away the big guitars and keyboards there’s a decent catalogue of tunes in there after all?
There’s no denying they have a passionate band of followers, many of whom were clad head to toe in Coast gear and who also follow them around while they’re on tour. Of those that I spoke to most weren’t from Inverness but had travelled from The Western Isles, Oban, Fort William and even one intrepid fan from Germany.
At the end of the gig while I was checking my notes I asked the sound engineer for a quick look at the set list, one of the fans who knew I was reviewing the band menacingly barked ‘well, what did you think then?’ I thought it best to reply with a neutral, ‘you’ll just have to read the review’ before beating a hasty retreat. From a staunch Coast fan’s perspective, however, “I thought they had improved a lot since I saw them in August and was just blown away, as was most of the crowd.”
A solid albeit uninspiring performance and on the evidence of last nights showing they’ve got a way to go before they start convincing the punters of Inverness that they’re anything other than a you-know-who tribute act.
Please have a look at further photographs from the night here.
Full set list : Ruabhal (instrumental), Big, Blue Sky. Road Outta This Town, The Caller, Keep Loving, Reckless Engineer, The Tall Fiddler (acoustic solo by Steve Picken guitarist) High Hopes (acoustic solo by Steve and dedicated to “Emma” who is a classical musician who played with the guys last year in Inverness and who is very ill) Blowing In The Wind (first done at Bob Dylan Tribute gig at Tonder Festival) The Ghost of Dan the Boy, To the Windward, The Turning Stone, The Docks of my Hometown, Oceanos, America, Beat of You (acoustic – co-written by Iain Bayne, Runrig).