A review of the Third Summer Showcase featuring Emma Mitchell, Last Summer Effect and The Whisky River Band on the 26th of July, 2012, by Frank Finlayson. Photos by Thomas Bisset.
The evening opened with the original face of Invernessgigs, Emma Mitchell, or Shearer as she was back then, taking to the Ironworks stage, or floor as it was tonight, for the very first time. First number Free Spirit, a song about innocence and written when she was in the Lake District showcased perfectly Emma’s rangy vocal to full effect. Although Emma may have finished her second song with a tear in her eye when singing about losing someone, any emotional fragility was countered by a voice that filled the open spaces of the Ironworks, a voice which tonight was expertly handled by the sound crew at the venue.
For each song the scene was set by Emma, whether it be a journey on Hogwart’s Express in the case of Lost, or reaching out to the crazy cavemen that like to fly down hills, the introductions eased the set along at her pace. Sticks and Stones rounded off an opening collection of real depth, both musically and lyrically, and vocally we were left in no doubt that this girl can sing. First time at the Ironworks, but surely not the last.
The somewhat sedate atmosphere set by Emma was rudely interrupted by the arrival of Last Summer Effect. Tonight there was an air of fearlessness when they took to the floor. It was as if they were out to prove a point, as Chris Fox fed off the crowd as they came fast out of the blocks. The songs were delivered with drive and a fair dash of sing-along from the front row but, Chris rather overdid the banter at times, which did become somewhat repetitive. Was it a sign of nerves? If so, there is really no need as tonight was about as good as I’ve heard Last Summer Effect play, with the half hour slot giving them ample opportunity to shine before their peers. Another band who have taken it upon themselves to raise their game for the showcases.
Final act of the night were the Whisky River Band. Singer Kris announced that due to unforeseen circumstances and were dedicating the performance to the absent Iain and his family. With the band short of a fiddler, and an integral part of what makes the Whiskys the Whiskys, you would have understood if the performance was a little lacklustre. However, in the face of adversity the remaining four pulled off a strong set, which still held that trademark Whiskys feel.
Special mention must go to guitarist Fraser who in many ways filled the gap that was left. From Open Your Eyes to No Regrets and all the numbers in between that sense of togetherness was evident from the vigour of both the band and their enthusiastic audience. The Whiskys never fail to disappoint, and tonight was no exception.
Togetherness was not just a theme of the Whisky’s performance but also the turnout of the local music fraternity who come out to support these events. These events are all a good springboard for festivals like Belladrum, but hopefully a few of the faces in the crowd at Bella this year will pick up on the numerous local acts on display there, and make the trip down to the Ironworks for the remaining showcases.