With eight acts playing the Ironworks Easter Showcase you were guaranteed that there would be something for everyone on the two stages.
Opening the acoustic stage was Susanna Wolfe. Susanna has already drawn a sizeable crowd as she delivered a heartfelt set fuelled in small part to a raspiness in voice from a cold. A good way to kick a night off. I like Susanna. I like her passion even if it scares the living daylights out of me from time to time.
Attention then turned to the main stage, where the said attention was truly grabbed and shaken by a voluminous display of power by Devil’s Queen. No quarter was asked and no quarter was given. Those that came for hard rock got it here, by the shovel full. Catch the the performance of ‘Tempt’ from the gig.
A 180 degree turn saw us facing once again the acoustic stage and the the arrival of Lauren Mackenzie and Paul MacIver. Unfortunately it was only Lauren who took to the stage as her musical partner, in her words, ‘didn’t turn up’. Although her confidence was a little shaken she produced some delightful story telling within her songs but lacked the conviction to end them and enjoy the applause, as she stooped to take a drink as she brought a lot of her songs to an abrupt end.
She also threw in an accomplished cover of Brandi Carlile’s ‘The Story’. A decent set especially, as Lauren said, it was her first solo gig and had, obviously, little time to prepare.
Bringing us up to the halfway point of the night was Lionel. I hadn’t seen Lionel for some time but there was a real buzz of anticipation in the building prior to their appearance on stage. Launching into ‘Soul Digger’ Joshua Mackenzie took command of the stage and never let it go. With keys adding a psychedelic edge and songs that are instantly familiar, even though you’ve never heard them before, Lionel blow you away.
They are young and, without doubt, going places. On this form they should be the main support for a major act on a UK tour. They demand to be heard further afield. They are just that good.
Having the unenviable task of following on from Lionel was local lad Dylan Tierney. Dylan had brought with him a decent following which he has built up through his hard work gigging locally. Dylan’s voice is somewhat unique, with a nasally yet vibrato pitch, and he also gives it laldy as he belts out his songs.
Subtlety is not one of the components which he uses readily but is one which he would benefit from as he writes damn good songs which at times he needs to lighten up just a little bit. That aside, he endeared himself to the audience and is moving in the right direction.
Penultimate main stage act of the night were Garden of Elks. They don’t mess about and went full pelt into their set. Encouraging the crowd to move forward they enjoy that intimacy that their highly charged music induces. The vocal rapport between Niall and Kirstin was most impressive and adds to the dynamism of the bands performance. The irrepressible nature of their performance excites and keeps a large audience from flagging.
Last act on the smaller acoustic stage was Cryptic Keys. At this point it is worth noting that that this was one of the most successful showcases to date with around 350 tickets sold, and throughout the night the numbers barely fluctuated as a healthy crowd stayed the distance. Cryptic Keys had brought along a sizeable following who were not disappointed by their performance although I did find that Dail’s vocal in the first half of the set was not quite up there with Rhia’s but from the mid-point onwards it was not an issue.
They are an interesting three piece with the acoustic guitar accompaniment of Mike providing the the scaffolding for the strength of the two vocalists. The strength is not just in the voices but the songs. One of the songs of the night, and crowd favourite, Jumping Trains, in particular stood out. Another act with a bright future ahead of them.
The eighth and final act of the night was the exciting Schnarff Schnarff. It was clear by the numbers who sung along to every song that that they had shifted a lot of tickets! Prowling frontman Myles scans the audience as he is backed up by his tight band.
Their set rampages through the Ironworks and culminated in the sublime ‘Fear’ and as Myles puts it, the track which “changed it all for them ‘‘Urrrgh’”. Schnarff Schnarff are playing with the confidence of a band who know that they are going places. Where they go is really up to them.
So this was a night that topped all expectations for an Ironworks Showcase. A full house, and with it an active audience and to top it all Schnarff Schnarff headlined it with aplomb and Lionel have shown that they have really come of age.
Special note also has to go to the Work Readiness students who were showing off their entrepreneurial skills by selling a compilation of tracks from the acts playing the showcase with all profits going to The Archie Foundation. An inspired idea and a nice touch.