Highwired at G’s, Inverness, 1/10/2015. A review.

It’s hard not to write a review like this from a personal level. Most conversations of the evening started with “I haven’t been here since (enter year depending on age)”, G’s or for those with long enough memories, Mr G’s has a reputation a certain expectation that for some caused a sense of trepidation. Could a gig consisting of three SAMA nominees eclipse years of bad dancing?

I had met with the promoter/organiser a few weeks before and the enthusiasm that Lee Gripton had was infectious, whilst the model is similar to a lot of successful (and unsuccessful) in the town. The venue in particular made it standout.

First to the crease , with bat in hand was Billy Mitchell, frontman for Krooked Saints. A late call up to replace Judges, Billy used the opportunity to try out some new material and did so with aplomb.

Lional playing XPONorth earlier in 2015
Lional playing XPONorth earlier in 2015

It was the only local band on the bill up next. Lionel (or Lional as they have recently renamed themselves) really need little by way of introduction, in the recent best newcomer nomination for the 2015 edition of the SAMAs they are a band that continues to be on the up. Certainly no stranger to the showcase format having also played the debut Unknown Pleasures earlier in the year, I can’t talk to how many times if ever they have graced G’s dancefloor.

There are additional vocal flourishes from Gogo during the set, which to be honest were at times slightly jarring . The vocal equivalent of a lead guitar break in particular didn’t sit too comfortably (even a partisan audience). But if you are going to experiment then now is the time was the message behind Joshua’s wry sense of humour as he introduced the last song of the set, “Best Days”. “Everything falls apart in G’s” he cautioned, but, the latest addition to the set list held up well

In January a conversation with Jim Gellatly struck a chord when he talked about the huge number of two piece bands in the central belt. Enter Kilmarnock’s Huxtable who, despite the glut of duo’s, stand out. Audiences have been raving about them and having only been together for a year Huxtable were nominated for the much coveted SAMA award.

Certainly the showman, Jordan Yatesof Huxtable playin Inverness in June
Certainly the showman, Jordan Yatesof Huxtable playin Inverness in June

This is Huxtable’s third gig of the year in the area, and in a pre gig chat, it’s pretty clear that they have enjoyed their previous excursions north. Chat during the gig however was more about the sheer power they manage to generate. I certainly wasn’t alone in trying to figure out how a two piece set about creating an almost impossible amount of noise between them.

There are elements of self indulgence, whether that be when Jordan Yates takes to the dance floor with the guitar or takes to a drum stool to bang along on the extra set of drums for, we did wonder why they had been positioned just aside from the stage. However these without doubt add to the sense of theatre of the set, if it was indeed needed.

Their improvisational approach led to a slight timing issue: “I know we fuck around between songs” – when the sound engineer accidentally cuts the set short – “but we have three songs left”. They recover well but lose a song in the process. Huxtable are going places their motivation and passion away from the stage is undeniable, and when they are playing, just wow.

Vladimir take to the stage at half past midnight, and just that little bit too late for us on this occasion. Pity, because priding themselves in being loud it would have been interesting to see the reaction of the crowd who were still recovering from Huxtable. Their own particular brand of indie metal had impressed when they supported The View at The Ironworks in March.

I will be interested to see whether local music fans will cast aside any anxiety and, dare I say snobbery, to check out the newest live music venue in town, they should. To be honest I went along with some preconceptions and a general sense of ‘this’ll never work’: I was wrong, it absolutely did.