Dorec-a-belle at The One Touch Theatre, Eden Court, 31/5/2015. A review.

Everything about this evening was a massive compliment to the audience from a band that clearly know their fan-base well. The sound, lighting and overall ‘look’ of the stage and the performers was exceptional.

Derek Urquhart with Marc Clement
Derek Urquhart with Marc Clement

Essentially this evening comprised of two fifty minute sets separated with an intermission and with two sets built in from their collaborators Derek Urquhart (drums) and Robin Abbott (double bass). Derek took to the guitar with Marc Clement to showcase material from his forthcoming album.

According to Marc, Derek has been working on this for about a million years, so just as well that it had a timeless immediate quality about it. On the strength of this performance an album well worth keeping an eye out for. Meanwhile Robin treated the crowd to three self-penned songs that had the crowd making favourable comparisons with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Randy Newman. Keep an eye on local listings, Robin and Derek are regular performers at various venues in Inverness.

Now to Dorec-a-belle. From their own blurb I would take issue with the genre being described as ‘Melodic and harmonic’: those are qualities that wander freely across genres and while they certainly signpost what the essence of Dorec-a-belle represents, the truth is that this is a band that is somewhat genre defying.

An impressive crowd had gathered for Dorec-a-belle's gig at the Eden Court
An impressive crowd had gathered for Dorec-a-belle’s gig at the Eden Court

There is a constant but subtle shape-shifting at play in their music; there are hints of jazz, alt-folk, country, pop and blues, I’m sure there are even traces of vaudeville in there somewhere and clearly an eastern European folk vibe makes a guest appearance.

Certainly the delicate ‘When you said’ paid a subtle homage to the blues classic ‘I would rather go blind’ while their jazz genes were let loose on an exceptional cover of Caro Emerald’s ‘Liquid Lunch’ – with Imke Henderson transforming into Marlene Dietrich for her lead vocal.

I suppose the visual cue to the genremash lies with the unique core mix of saxophone, accordion, guitar and cello (core because we are talking about accomplished multi-instrumentalists here . . .). That and the fact that they share song-writing duties, and as such, they each bring something unique to the party. It’s really impressive that they take this diversity and mould it into something unique and exciting called Dorec-a-belle.

And their fans love it; on more than one occasion during this extended performance that aforementioned audience were, well, spellbound. The reason for this more often that not harks back to my initial observation and dispute with those two descriptors – melodic and harmonic. They really come to the fore in what sets Dorec-a-belle apart – an impressive vocal blend featuring precision harmonies. You really just have to sit back and listen, because if the harmonies and melodies don’t get you, more often than not the lyrics will.

There are a handful of bands that have their album launch at CaVa Studios – Deacon Blue, Hue and Cry, Belle and Sebastian and Dorec-a-belle for example: it’s an impressive feature on any bands CV and testament to their talent. Tonight alongside songs featured on that album (Listen) we were treated to new material and the promise of a second album.

Meantime, they will be opening the Garden Stage on the Saturday at Belladrum. If you don’t have a ticket, I hear rumour that more are on sale from 3rd June, go get one.

Photos of the evening will appear on the site very very soon.

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Life-long engagement with music and a truly eclectic taste (although prog-rock and metal will usually have me scrambling for the off button). If pushed, I would have to say the Velvet Underground are one of the most important band’s of all time. Although I consider myself first and foremost a photographer, as regards reviewing I guess I cut my teeth in the vibrant fanzine scene of the 80’s. Around the same time I started taking photographs and, to be brief, performance and photography were made for each other: perfect match.