Josephine Sillars, single launch at The Bothy,Inverness on the 1st of November,2014 . A review.

Josephine Sillars was joined by Hannah Finlayson and Esperi in launching her debut single ‘Hello’ from the top floor of Hootananny. Although each of the acts were quite different there was sprinkled in there a Saturday night at the movies theme.

The Bothy always seems to bring out the best in Hannah
The Bothy always seems to bring out the best in Hannah

There was already a healthy crowd in the Bothy at Hootananny when Hannah Finlayson took to the stage. Hannah opened with ‘Turn The Page’ although she did fluff her lines a little by referring to it by a different name, but once corrected Hannah settled her down as she played to a relaxed and attentive audience.

Hannah took the opportunity to bring a couple of new numbers to her set with a stripped back downbeat cover of ‘You’re The One That I Want’ from Grease catching attention. The moody delivery set the tone for a more emotional Hannah to give her first public hearing of her new song ‘All I Want Is You’.

A half hour should never do Esperi justice
A half hour should never do Esperi justice

The Bothy always seems to bring out the best in Hannah and tonight was no exception, even if her voice was struggling a little at the end. Probably to do with the altitude on the top floor or something.

With a quick change round Chris James Marr aka Esperi took to the stage for his half hour slot. A half hour should never do Esperi justice but he was able to condense his immeasurable talent into such a short space of time, and he did it in a deceptive fashion.

Opening with ‘Somersaults’, a song for his young son Calum you would be lead to believe that Esperi was an intricate and gentle singer songwriter, which he is, but there is so much more to him which was revealed before his half hour was out. Keeping to the family theme, and he accepts that he has an album half influenced by his son, he moves to a song for his wife in which he uses an acoustic guitar both traditionally and percussively; but this was just the beginning.

With a song inspired by The Empire Strikes Back this led to him showcasing his ability to be not just a multi-instrumentalist but also his capacity to take everyday objects, mainly his son’s toys, and turn them into a further layer in his looping effects.

It was then the turn of Josephine Sillars, with her familiar keyboard atop an ironing board
It was then the turn of Josephine Sillars, with her familiar keyboard atop an ironing board

The second half of his set was mesmerising. Esperi doesn’t travel light and the stage was filled with an array of instruments, and as mentioned earlier a fair selection from Toys ‘R’ Us too! There is a casual grace in the way that he steps between instruments in ‘Silo The Fire’ slowly building the song up to its ultimate crescendo as the the drums come crashing down and ended his set to rapturous applause.

It was then the turn of Josephine Sillars, with her familiar keyboard atop an ironing board, to round off the evening before a knowledgeable and entertained crowd, and give her single the launch that it deserved. Josephine’s nod to the movies was in her opener ‘History Makers’ which is her sympathetic leaning towards the movie bad guys.

Next up was ‘February Has A Smoking Problem’ her reflection on a night when she was assaulted, in a nice way, by a tearful and heartbroken girl on Sauchiehall Street. Josephine has an uncanny knack to draw inspiration from these chance meetings and translate them into song. Josephine even had time to slip in a cover of ‘Twin Size Mattress’ by The Front Bottoms. Turning back to her own material she ended the first half with ‘Little Footsteps’ in which we discovered that this girl knew how to hold a note and also that she can give in to a musical theatre feel too.

The second half saw the introduction of her friend Lewis on guitar
The second half saw the introduction of her friend Lewis on guitar

The second half saw the introduction of her friend Lewis on guitar and it also brought about the revelation that Josephine is a liar. She came clean tonight and confessed that in her first year at Uni she told a fellow student that she was well into the Arctic Monkeys. Tonight she told the truth, and in own words although it will make her mother gasp, ‘I know fuck all about the Arctic Monkeys’.

With this new found liberation, and a ukulele, Josephine set about playing ‘Ballad For Alex’ before leaving the stage mid song allowing Lewis to up the guitar for the return of Josephine, with shades and homemade Arctic Monkeys’ t-shirt, who turned the song into ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ from the Arctic’s album ‘AM’ (Don’t worry Josephine I had to look it up too).

The evening though was about Josephine’s single release. ‘Hello’. She had left that to last, keeping her audience waiting, and she did not disappoint. This is Josephine at her contemplative, and introspective best.

There are notes to hold but also a story to tell. It’s done very well captivating an audience, something that all the acts did tonight.

Three acts played their part tonight, each with their own mark to make on the evening with a support that kept a crowd from drifting and gave Josephine the opportunity to launch her single in style. And that she did.

You can buy ‘Hello‘ on line.

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Chartered surveyor by day, music reviewer by night, and occasionally I get to use my camera. A strange mix, but one that I enjoy.

A chance meeting in the queue for Bella in 2010 led to the opportunity to write for InvernessGigs; a far cry from the days of writing for a football fanzine back in the late 80s, early 90s. My interests lie between the mainstream, the emerging and the local. Increasingly I find that we have more than enough locally to entertain us to necessitate a trip south. I’m always happy to give a listen, whatever the genre.

Inverness has a plethora of talent, all of which I am more than keen to write about. If it encourages just one person to make the effort to listen to some new music I’ll be happy.

You can contact Frank direct via frankieboyfin@gmail.com