Review of Airship, with support from Thousand Stars and Midnight Glory at Mad Hatters, Inverness on Wednesday 2 November, 2011.


Two local bands were given the opportunity to witness the appearance of Airship at Mad Hatters on Wednesday. First to take the floor were local rockers, Thousand Stars. An enthusiastic bunch whose power guitars are driven along by Lauren Black’s vocal. They took us on a journey through their repertoire which included, Guiding Lights, Rollercoaster Universe, Phoenix (title track from their forthcoming EP), and the eponymous Thousand Stars before Lauren left the stage to let the lads finish of their set with their outro. (you can see an interview with Thousand Stars here)

So do they shine? Well, at times the backing vocals didn’t always harmonise the way I think that they intended, and the boys should, to a certain degree, leave the vocals to Lauren, just as she left the stage to them to rattle out their powerful outro. Oh yes, did they shine? Well there is more than a twinkle here, and a bit of sparkle that should be encouraged.

Next was Graham Brown in the guise of his band Midnight Glory, as he oscillates between his band and his solo career. I don’t think that it was coincidence that during the interval between the opening act and Midnight Glory that Two Door Cinema Club were played. Such comparisons have been noted in the past, and from the early strains of their opening number such influences were obviously evident again.

There is a real tightness to the band even if there is, instrumentally, a rather studious approach which gives the impression that they are more of an accompaniment to Graham at times. But the collection of songs give Graham an opportunity to extend his vocal range which he takes full advantage of, all the way through to final song Believing.

Tonight was a good example of young, local bands being given the opportunity to support a more recognised, and experienced, act from further afield. That act was in the form of Mancunian group Airship.

If ever expectations are going to high, it is when a band is announced as coming from Manchester with its rich recent history of legendary acts, so no pressure then. Airship soared from the off, with their atmospherically charged indie sound, given a bit of lubrication now and again in the form of a bottle of red conveniently placed at the feet of lead singer, Elliott Williams.

As mentioned above, this was an opportunity for local bands to draw inspiration and learn something from a national act. Tonight was about stage presence, something Airship have in abundance, lifting them above the pedestrian and drawing you in, as they took you on a tour of their recently released album Stuck In This Ocean.

Airship also have that air of confidence, giving them the opportunity to improvise where necessary and be comfortable, whether it be Marcus’s impromptu turn with the drumsticks or Elliott, as the band ramped it up at the end of the set, who got onto the floor to mix it with a couple of air guitarists. Moments like that give a performance the edge.

Although veterans of Belladrum, they were there in 2010, I must admit that Airship somehow slipped through my net then, but with tracks such as the towering Test, the sublime Gold Watches, and the epically lush The Trial of Mr Riddle, I’ll certainly be checking in for Airship a little more often.

Written by Frank Finlayson