The line-up for Friday night at Mad Hatters was, to say the least, interesting. El Born had travelled all the way from London as part of a Scottish tour but were trumped by the international arrival of Korsak who had made their way from Canary Islands.
First up were Korsak. Normally they are a five piece, but for their overseas trip they were limited to three, but targeting an acoustic set to promote the release of their new album ‘Learning to be Quiet’.
This is high quality musicianship played to an upbeat tempo, but unfortunately not the same tempo as what appeared to be a pre Gs crowd to be dancing to. Noticed by the band they dedicated ‘Too Much Wine’ to the dancers. It may well have been that they, the dancers, believed that they were on a holiday isle and making the most of the low cost sangria. That, tonight, was in many ways the problem.
For all the tight harmonies, and there were plenty, and the latin feel that infected their set, it was, to me, in the wrong setting. It may well have been just the wrong crowd but Korsak are a band that demand you listen.
Short on melody, but strong on lyrics it would ideally sat well in the evening in a Mediterranean town square with the local wine flowing giving a great backdrop to a hot summer’s day. Korsak soak up the sun in their music, and have a sound that I’d be more than happy to be sitting in that town square, but at least they give us a taste of the months ahead.
There was something about El Born when I saw them setting up that made me think that this is a band. There was no pissing about as they went about it, and you could see the attitude in their eyes; but could they deliver? It didn’t take long to get an answer to that question.
Lead singer, and guitarist, Si Connelly told us ‘we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band as they used to be’. That in effect set the tone for the night. There was none of the chilled back Mediterranean beat about El Born, although there was more than a whiff of Spanish about their name; they were keen to launch themselves head first into the audience.
This was as exhilarating as it gets. Si is the ideal front man; locals would no doubt draw comparison with The Oxides’ Jake Bolt, and I would not disagree. It doesn’t just stop there. The belief within El Born is tangible and it is visible in the delivery of their songs. When the tempo is at its peak, El Born are at their best; surfing the crest of the wave, but even when the brakes are applied, as it was with ‘White Rabbit’, it was measured and clever. Not too clever for its own good, as they know when to draw a line under a song.
El Born lift you up and throw you round. It’s a tornado of indie rock ‘n’ roll. In the end I felt a little like Si’s guitar which was left trashed in the middle of the floor. Where is Pennie Smith when you need her?
Tonight I saw something special. El Born know where to deliver the blows, and they do that with deadly accuracy. Please come back to see us again, but preferably on a festival stage; a big one.
More pictures of Korsak and El Born in Inverness.