The second Summer showcase at the Ironworks on the 24th of August, 2014. A review.
A new face to open the evening, Jamie Marshall and for the first 30 seconds of instrumental I was thinking to compare him to Ralph McTell, but as soon as the song started properly I changed my mind.
Undoubtedly Americana hints, in a genre that I know very little about, I’m sure that he takes influence from Johnny Cash. His songs are very well constructed, his voice strong, he kept the audience’s attention throughout.
Struggling to find a like for like artists a band called “Decemberists” were highlighted to me by Joe Stainke of Spoke Too Soon, and I think he could be onto something there. For his final track Jamie resorted back into his native Scottish accent for a cover of Brian McDonald’s “No Gods and Precious Few Heroes”, a subtle comment on the future independence referendum.
Silver Coast then took to the big stage and kicked off with the anthemic “As She Cries”, Jason’s bass cutting through the room like a big round knife forced through butter. Their set included tracks such as “Hold On”, their single “Believe” and they rounded it off with a newer track, “Run Away”. Silver Coasts guitar driven pop rock songs were well received by the audience as a whole.
A refreshing young face, Emily MacKinnon, started off her set solo, playing guitar and singing a short song by herself for the first time that I’ve seen, before being joined by local legend and all round good guy Ben Hesling on guitar with a song called “The Girl”, a heart wrenching tale of a girl struggling to make it in the world, and “The Morning After the Night Before”, written of course, by Sara Bills.
At one point, forgetting the words, Emily made light of the situation and recovered- I’m glad she did because in this song she really showed off that she has a fantastic voice and that her urban folk music is definitely something to keep an eye on.
2 acts for the price of one, Emily and Ben were then joined on stage by Butterscotch, or in this format MC Swagatha Christie and the three took the form of Spring Break, initially set up for a one off performance at Belladrum but with great success that they’re set to continue. This gave the night a new tone and gave us the first taste of acoustic hip-hop, perhaps a perfect set up for Hector Bizerk who took the stage later on.
With two vocals, acoustic guitar (with some clever effects) and “all other instruments played by Jesus”, Spring Break got the whole room moving with their Ironworks debut.
Verona, fronted by familiar faced James Mackenzie started with “Comfortable” , it’s ear piercing drums and steady guitar gave listeners a taste of whats to come. Describing themselves as a “Shakespearian rock band”, Verona then went into a new track called “Curtain Call”, with a broken guitar string early on, it was all cooly recovered by a very calm James.
An old Aquascene track came next, “Thoughts” presented with a new sound. In “Lifeline”, the backing vocals of Caroline Truslove really came into their element and lifted the track to a new level. To conclude their set “Shoulders” took things back down in dynamics and then built back up into a thundering rock tune.
Listening to Matchstick Maker, or Duncan Overmeer by his other name was a complete delight as normal, with an incredible vocal range. He kept his set simple and sweet, appreciated by most, though a swell of noise came from people at the bar, a common Ironworks problem.
Duncan played a song that you can get free from his website, with the catchy chorus “This house is open”, and a story of losing track of time at a party, something most of us can relate to. His final track was based on a poem, and is one of my favourite songs, the incredible “For Those who Sing”. I would encourage anyone who hasn’t to make to effort to see Matchstick Maker live, he will not disappoint.
Synthdriven, sunshine, power pop 6 piece band Be Like Pablo from Forres put on their expected fun performance. The male and female fronted band played their tracks such as the “Post-it Song”, their most recent (re) release, the video having been filmed on iPhones at the Ironworks (check it out) and my favourite of their songs “Without The Pain”, featuring “Forres’s best rapper”, another track with a truly brilliant music video.
After a quick plug of their new album they played their final song which transformed subtly into a 4 way harmony of the tune “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge, and back into their own track for finale. Great band.
It was nice to see a nylon string guitar, something I don’t think I’ve ever seen at the Ironworks, but a fantastic sound it makes- and even more fantastic when played by the sensational Siobhan Wilson, A.K.A Ella the Bird, who has got an impressive tour ahead around Britain and parts of Europe. Soft and dreamy, yet often haunting, not too dissimilar to Rachel Sermanni, but more sedate, Siobhan entranced the room into her songs.
By this point it had been a long night and my wee legs were hurting, but it was no chore to listen to this set. With familiar melodies from her set at goNorth earlier in the summer it was a pleasure to hear those hooks again. She finished up her set with a great track called “All Dressed Up”, which you should check out on YouTube if you know what’s good for you.
Onto the final act of the night- the pinnacle of Scottish Hipity Hopity, armed with all sorts of percussion along with synthesiser and bass guitar, Hector Bizerk fronted by rapped Louie rocketed through an upbeat set of rhythmic beats and poetry in a well polished and impressive set. It was no surprise that this band had been nominated for Scottish Album of the year along with Biffy Clyro, Edwin Collins, Mogwai and Young Fathers. The songs from the album came across live very well and had the whole audience moving their feet.
Special mention to Sound Engineer Mike Hogg who mixed all 8 bands without a break and very little changeover to a great quality as well as to Ben and Scott on monitors and lights.
A long night of music, only seen through from start to finish by the most dedicated of music fans, but a great night.