Lional, with support from Iain Mclaughlin & the Outsiders and Dr Wook, at the Spectrum Centre, Inverness, 27/11/2015. A review.
Tonight, The Spectrum centre played host to a proper indie extravaganza. A real festival of DIY featuring the full roster of bands currently signed to local record label IMOUT – they have organised the gig, they do their own recordings, their own distribution, promotion, design, CD’s, photography, videos, t-shirts, and Lional just might have produced a whole new font – you name it, they’re doing it for themselves.
The merch stall was fully loaded with IMOUT goodies, the framed and signed limited edition print of Lional’s new single taking pride of place, but the local print shops had no doubt been busy with T-shirt and sticker printing for the evening. In general a very professional touch to proceedings.
The Spectrum Centre as a venue has it’s challenges including the fear that it appears like a school hall, but with stage in place and CMPS working wonders with sound and lighting what could have been reminiscent to a school disco was actually an intimate welcoming venue. It certainly became more intimate given the impressive crowd gathered despite formidable competition from Bragg, Elephant Sessions and more on a busy pay-day night.
Dr Wook (the title “former frontman of The Whiskys” certainly no longer required) played alone tonight, not taking advantage of occasional collaborator Paul Elliot being in the building. The set felt simple, pared back to the bare bones (except of course last song but even then the loops were not used anywhere near as much as has been in the past). There was a silence between songs that appeared to highlight the respect for Wook’s tunes on the night.
It’s fair to say that the crowd became a bit rowdier for Iain McLaughlin and the Outsiders, Iain managing the friendly heckling in his stride. It was an impassioned set, complete with dedication to his fiance. Dr Wook joins the band for the “scuzzy” short and sweet ‘Easy’, boy does that tune and vocal harmonies stick with you. Dr Wook joined the band again towards the end of a blistering magnificent seven song set – but only to rescue Alisdair Duncan whose keyboard took issue with its stand and wandered off.
And so to the main event on this Black Friday gig. For the uninitiated their label describe Lional as indie/noir pop. Audience chatter had them (favourably) compared to the like of Interpol and Editors; certainly the black shirts and focussed forcefulness of Joshua Mackenzie did little to challenge these observations.
Since being heralded as the best unsigned act at goNORTH 2014, Lional have continued to grow and thrive and on tonight’s evidence they seem to have both a broad appeal and a well established fan base. A quick look in the bar after Lional had belted through opener Soul Digger and it was empty – always a good sign. Actually, it’s refreshing to have separate spaces for drinking/socialising and for the music, one of the absolute strengths of the venue.
New single and the reason we are out tonight ‘Season of Salt’appears second in an impressive 13 strong set. If I have one criticism it’s that it was played with no fanfare, no particular aside on stage and no plea to go buy it at the merch desk. Some reticence about the hard-sell perhaps, but when you have put in all that effort and shelled out the costs yourself – you do need to try a bit harder to sell the goods.
With all that shade there had to be some light and that came in the guise of encore ‘A Girl Like You’ – an homage to one of Joshua’s favourite artists Edwyn Collins.
What next for Lional? Well, supporting Neon Waltz on a couple of dates in Irvine and Wick and Medicine Men in Glasgow. They’re not back in the area until January next year when they will be playing in Aviemore. Meantime – there is some great merch to be had and a new single available from all the usual outlets – and surely a song that will attract some well deserved airplay so keep your ears peeled. And keep your eyes open for new of whatever is coming next from IMOUT as they look to build on the success of the evening and crack on with developing the label.
Thanks to Roddy McKenzie