Toby Stainton reviews Ironworks Summer Showcase Five, 9/08/2012.

The Ironworks Summer Showcase rumbled on with the night’s line-up comprised singer songwriter Ailsa Lyall Matthews, Dorec-a-belle, Barry Mackay and the Galapaygos.

Muir of Ord’s Ailsa was first on the bill announcing that she was slightly nervous as this was the largest audience she’d performed to; she needn’t have worried though as her opening song stopped everyone in their tracks and she had our rapt attention for the next 20 minutes . Her outward appearance (think shy teenager on a night out with friends) did nothing to belie the sheer power of her voice and any cynics were quickly silenced. Backed up by guitarist Greg Barry and with Ailsa making occasional forays on to piano this simple arrangement worked well and her voice was allowed to do the work. It would have been easy for her to let rip and get all soul diva on us but she kept things simple, nicely complimenting Greg’s guitar playing and his occasional backing vocals. A mix of originals and covers, including a superb version of Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag, kept everyone’s interest. Keep your eyes and ears out for her as she’s going to be giving Megan Blyth and Rachel Sermanni a run for their money, a real privilege to see what could be the start of a very promising career.

Dorec-a-belle arrive in matching red and black outfits and bowler hats and after an initially sluggish start, where they didn’t seem to be gelling too well, they began to get into their stride. A difficult band to pin down in terms of genre, the mix of accordion, saxophone, guitar and cello seemed to bounce them anywhere from Balkan, Scottish folk, jazz before leaving you sitting outside a café in Paris. Comprising of Liza Mulholland (accordion) Maryann Frew (guitar), Bev Fraser (saxophone) and Imke Henderson (cello) this undeniably talented quartet still sound a bit rough round the edges with some of the songs having an unfinished feel too them. Whilst it’s admirable that they clearly don’t want to be pinned down to any one particular style and have a range of influences, this sometimes leads to the songs sounding somewhat disparate. The set featured songs from their recently released album sampler namely ‘Listen’, ‘If I could’ and ‘you got me’.  Their vocal harmonies blended well together and the Mulholland penned song was particularly haunting with Liza’s husky tones complementing the darker tone perfectly.

Barry Mackay is something of a stalwart of the Inverness scene after his stint fronting Sneaky Castro but at the moment seems to be enjoying his solo outings and in particular his partnership with Ryan Golder. Always an engaging and witty raconteur he opened with proceedings with a Birthday announcement on behalf of ‘Dickie’ who he pondered whether he was after getting his leg over. Whether Dickie was successful in that matter remains open to conjecture but judging by the hilarity I suspect not! This evening he had Andy from the Whisky River Band on bongos, Martin from the Parma Violets and the ubiquitous Ryan Golder on the guitar. There’s no doubting where Barry’s influences lie with his songs having a very definite 90’s era Manchester feel about them, this does nothing to detract from his ability to pen a good tune but at times it does feel a bit too safe and he’s certainly not setting any new ground. That said, he’s  good fun to watch and it’s nice to see musicians on stage enjoying themselves and not taking things too seriously – case in point is the medley at the end of ‘I can’t see’ featuring a bit of Bob Marley, Lady Gaga, Chesney Hawkes and… Inspector Gadget! Ryan even has a fair effort at a rap at the end which he carries off with aplomb.  ‘Call my name’ is dedicated to “my wife cos she’s well fit” and is touchingly well written although his singing did seem to stumble and ended up being a bit… ‘pitchy’.. maybe it was the subject matter that caused him to lose control. Ryan Golder had the honour of playing the final song and he chose to air his own tune ‘Forever Criminal ‘. Ryan is clearly a gifted song writer in his own right and he’s obviously ready to go his own way. Another one to keep your eye for in the future.

Headline act Galipaygos insomuch as they were the last act to play are well known to most regular gig goers in Inverness having played in many of the local venues and the likes of the Belladrum festival. With a reasonable back catalogue to pick tunes from and a new album to promote they finished off the night with their own blend of acoustic Americana. Unfortunately with the audience rapidly thinning (less than half than who were there during Dorec- a-belle) and the strength of the previous acts, they struggled to make an impact and didn’t really seem to get out second gear. ‘The Life He Had’ ,’ The one that got away’ and ‘No other’ trotted along at an amiable place and didn’t really do much to distract anyone from the bar or their conversations. ‘The theme for the Galapaygos’ injected a bit of life into their set but unfortunately it was their last song for the evening  and that energy did little but give everyone the impetus to head off home.

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A lifelong passion for music matched with a geeky fascination for social media and websites resulted in the creation of Inverness Gigs back in 2010. The aim of the site is to help promote, support and generally raise awareness of the local music scene.In fairness fifteen years of being a psychiatric nurse never prepared me for the experiences that we have had over the last few years and the evolution of Inverness Gigs has certainly been a steep learning curve.I currently write (less and less), edit and co-ordinate most of the Inverness Gigs activities.Occasionally seen on Twitter, and  LinkedIn, if you want get in touch you can contact me direct at chris@igi.gs