Review of the Ironworks Winter Showcases @ 28/29th of December 2011

Frank Finlayson offers his insight of the Showcases…

Following on from the success of the weekly summer showcases earlier this year, the Ironworks put together the ambitious task of cramming 16 acts on 2 stages over 2 consecutive nights. No mean feat, but carried out with aplomb, and very little in the way of technical hiccups (other than the start of KOBI’s set) and with each stage ably compered by Netsounds’ Jamie Macdonald and Nairn’s incomparable Toby Michaels the turnarounds were impeccable.

Red Ronson 85 thumb - Inverness together for the Showcases
It was all kicked off on the smaller stage by the stairs by Red Ronson, who after a fairly innocuous opening number, even by their own admission, stepped up their game and set up the crowd for the night ahead.

Heads quickly turned to Roadway who more than held their own on the main stage, with rock theatrics seldom seen since the 1980s. An about turn took us onto one of Netsounds 12 for 12, Megan Blyth making a triumphant bowing out from an emphatic 2011. the eclectic mix turned towards the main stage and the deep rumble that is the Little Mill of Happiness, playing one of the sets of the year.

Now at the mid-point we were treated to an enthusiastic set from the ever busy Sara Bills and her Hasbeens. Promptly Iain MacLaughlin and the Outsiders showed us what made 2011 special for them, and what 2012 is about to bring. Onwards, to Homework a band making a lot of waves, who gave a full on set with a surfeit of energy feeding us all the way to the final act of the night. He Slept on 57 took centre stage and rounded off a fine night in fine style. And that was just the first night.

The Frues 129 thumb - Inverness together for the Showcases
Thursday night saw The Frues knock out a sturdy set to set the standard for the night. Their uptempo performance was knocked down a beat or two by the exquisite Abigail Grey, although small in number they filled the main stage with their exuberance. And then to the aforementioned Toby Michaels, a set grounded not just in music but theatrical entertainment. Toby put a smile on the face of the crowd as they were set up for the second of Netsounds’ 12 for 12, Red Kites. A tour de force performance saw the boys clean up before a well versed band of followers. A band to really look out for next year, and I don’t think you will have to look too far.

Ashley Mackay had the task of following on from their barnstorming set, and that she did with consummate ease. Kicking it down a level the audience were attentive to each song. Up next with the weight of being the audience Netsounds choice of 2011 were KOBI. Although a little distracted early on due to technical difficulties, it all came together to produce a set showing why after seven years the right decision was to pull together again.

Midnight Glory 156 thumb - Inverness together for the Showcases

Graham Brown’s Midnight Glory performed the penultimate set of the night much to the enjoyment of those assembled, with the showcase given a rousing finish as it was rounded off by none other than local favourites The Whisky River Band.

So, that was 2011, all nicely packaged up and delivered in the form of the Winter Showcases. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. As noted by many of the acts, Inverness pulls together for these events; not just the bands but those that are needed to create an event.

Thanks must first go to the Ironworks, and all their guys behind the scenes, for the foresight in producing such events, and to those that support such events such as, obviously, Netsounds and also the local press.

It would be wrong of me at this point not to mention the local photographers who get some stunning images to the media. Special thanks go, on my part as I turned up with a new camera and no clue, to Al Houdi Donelly for spelling out the rules, and Thomas Bisset for putting numbers, I believe they are called settings(!) on my camera so that I got at least a few in focus. Most of all, thanks should go to those that support the local music scene, without you where would we be….

Written by Frank Finlayson

Photos by Thomas Bisset (further pictures here) and Frank Finlayson’s here

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A lifelong passion for music matched with a geeky fascination for social media and websites resulted in the creation of Inverness Gigs back in 2010. The aim of the site is to help promote, support and generally raise awareness of the local music scene.In fairness fifteen years of being a psychiatric nurse never prepared me for the experiences that we have had over the last few years and the evolution of Inverness Gigs has certainly been a steep learning curve.I currently write (less and less), edit and co-ordinate most of the Inverness Gigs activities.Occasionally seen on Twitter, and  LinkedIn, if you want get in touch you can contact me direct at