A review of Thursday night, the sixth of June, at goNORTH 2013, featuring The Sea Atlas, Poor Things, KOBI and The Whiskys.
The Room is a venue very much used to having its fair share of bands at weekends. It’s only a stagger across the street from Hootananny, but caters for a different audience with an almost exclusively cover band line-up. Tonight when The Sea Atlas struck up it seemed very much like a band playing in a restaurant, as a number of the mid-evening diners were still polishing off their sticky toffee puddings. The Sea Atlas, opening with ‘In Snow’, produce a brand of folk rock which jollied along this unsuspecting crowd, and didn’t have them grabbing their jackets and rushing for the exits. The more upbeat numbers captured both the diners, the regular drinkers and the Go North crowd, whereas those quieter moments were less appreciated for those who had come for a pint and a chat.
Folk rock is becoming an overpopulated genre and The Sea Atlas have enough about them to set them aside from many others. The rootsy feel with the gritty vocal of Calum Buchanan, is tempered by the sweet overtones of the fiddle. The tales behind the songs are well delivered as is their support of their home economy in Calum’s wearing of a tweed suit, even if he admits it is not always the cleverest idea as the set heats up. Man From The North may have been from a girl who never knew where Lewis was, but The Sea Atlas will no doubt point more fingers to that page in their atlas, or, even if lacks a certain romance, google maps.
The Room, as alluded to above, is part of a small hub of venues which made easy access from the end of one set to the beginning of another. So a few doors down Church Street took me to the opening act in The Auctioneers, Poor Things. They could make a decent living out of opening stages, as they did so successfully at Brew at the Bog, but they are destined to have others do that for them. Apparently they spent a lot of their time in Inverness at the Creative Skate store on Baron Taylor’s Street, which would have been an ideal venue to deliver their highly infectious blend of pop rock.
With vocal duties shared between Craig Angus and Richard Stratton, throwing in the odd falsetto for good measure they mix up their turbocharged set, as Gavin Redford stokes the engine. And they have melodies, especially ‘Morgan’, which soundtracks summers days. Add in ‘Andy’s Clothes’ they tweak that sound to give you a touch of surf. It’s frenetic energy, and introductions were short, sincere and punchy. Well, you would if you were knocking out 9 songs in half an hour. See them at T in the Park this year, they are on the T Break stage, you won’t regret it.
Next stop was Hootananny where KOBI had just launched into their set. The pub was rammed almost as much as the stage was where it was loaded up as KOBI possessed it. From initial viewing this looked to be an impromptu jam session. KOBI have grown arms and legs over the years with changing horns section and the revolving door guitarist, and tonight Calum Martin was on drumming duties. But this is no mutation, this is the evolution of KOBI. They have come along way from their early meanderings, and there is a sense of purpose stacked up behind lead Gary Thain. The horns section is well primed and is given more prominence, especially in the introduction to recent single release, ‘All The Way’. They have a varied line-up of gigs coming up, but that they have wide appeal, and music that is accessible.
One last stop saw me take the trip down to the bottom of Academy Street, and the Phoenix Bar. The Whiskys who were drafted in as late replacements for the sumptuously named Ice Cream Cathedral from Denmark . Their following is such that even at short notice they drafted in a party, a party to which I arrived at halfway through. As well as feeding us the likes of ‘Dark Cloud’ from their first album, they are also priming us for their second release. They have more than adapted to the change in personnel, as this and a previous airing at Brew at the Bog, displayed. On that note I took my leave of Go North and bid it a fond farewell. There were a lot of acts that I would have loved to have seen, but you can’t be in four places at one time. In many ways that is the beauty of GoNorth; it gives you the rest of the year to discover those other bands.
Photos by Frank Finlayson, more underneath: