Chris Barron, with support from Lach, at Mad Hatters, Inverness on the 8th of November, 2016. Review.

I’ve tried writing this review about three times already and each time got to around two hundred words before giving up in disgust and deleting the whole thing. Last night in the Mad Hatters was a rare and special evening in the presence of anti-folk luminary Lach and Chris Barron, frontman of The Spin Doctors and possessor of one of the finest voices either side of the Atlantic.

It was a uniquely special night that is proving to be difficult to put into words. Whilst there were fewer than to be expected at the gig, rather than kill the atmosphere it gave the night an intimate and friendly feel. It felt like this was a couple of blokes playing to a group of friends rather than an anonymous audience of semi-interested punters. Chris Barron commented that there might not be many of us here but we’re the only ones he gave a shit about in the whole of Inverness. See… we’re special.

Lach is a funny bugger too, and not just mildly amusing, but properly pant-wettingly Billy Connnelly with an American accent funny. Interspersing songs with tales of using VW Beetles as an airtight bong, shouting , ‘fuck you!’ at Chris Barron and reading a particularly filthy poem about Bill Clinton being aroused by foreign policy… I suppose you had to be there. The songs are good too and you can tell why he may not have gone down terribly well with the po-faced folkies in New York back in the early eighties.

The material ranges from ‘Teenage Alcoholic’ to a wry stab at the Vegan, Yoga taking, guitar playing ex-girlfriend who has started smoking again despite claiming everything got better when they split up in ‘Smoking Again’. ‘Kiss Loves You’ is an ode to the band that every kid fixates on when they first discover music, it might not be Kiss but we all had that ‘one’.

Chris Barron might be used to playing larger venues throughout his career but he seems to relish playing to the small crowd. A quick look at the stats for the Spin Doctors are impressive, 31 Million views on YouTube and 70 Million listens on Spotify for ‘Two Princes’, 3 Million views and 7 Million listens for ‘Little Miss Can’t be Wrong’… and he’s playing to a more intimate audience… It’s hard not to feel a little bit smug that we’ve got someone of this calibre to ourselves.

Like Lach he plays for an hour and of course we get the obvious hits but we also get some tunes that he’s penned for others that he felt weren’t done the justice they deserve. His vocal problems have been well documented and it was thought at one point that he wouldn’t sing again, but you wouldn’t know it listening to the man stood in front of last night. Vocally he’s absolutely spot on, a little bluesy rawness in there, but otherwise crystal clear and utterly compelling.

A rare night in Inverness and I think, one of the best gigs I’ve been to in recent years.

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I've always loved music and spent my late teens and early twenties playing guitar in various bands on Lewis and Aberdeen. Other than playing in some truly terrifying pubs in Aberdeen not much came of it and life became focused on family and having a 'proper' job. Inverness Gigs is an outlet for me to quell my inner frustrated musician and the caliber of local acts has even inspired me to take my own music more seriously again. Who knows, one day I might venture back on stage under the fierce scrutiny of an Inverness Gigs reviewer! You can contact Toby direct at Toby@Igi.gs