Summer Pleasures, Ironworks Venue, Inverness, 30/7/2016. A review.

8 acts in one evening. That’s a lot of music for the senses. In fact I’m pretty sure I don’t see as many bands in a day at a festival, but up for the challenge ,ticket was purchased. The quickfire turnover, rolling 2 stages, keeps the night ticking and it avoids those foot shuffling, mobile phone gazing moments of turnaround between bands. However, 8 bands. You need quality or you can have a tedious night ahead of you, and I will admit having not heard some of the acts before, that I arrived with a certain sense of trepidation.

The evening started in the corner, stage left, where a makeshift stage was set up for the solo acts. Opening was Michiel Turner, a young lad with a guitar. Always a tough slot being first up but with the first arrivals normally chatty, Michiel silenced them. No mean feat.

There is a rising melancholy within his compositions which coupled with his powerful vocal, think the soulfulness of Jamie Woon entrapped within Ben Howard’s earth delivery and you are only part there, and his stripped back guitar style you have a atmospheric set which I found a little one paced until he unleashed ‘Ride’ to end his set. Michiel has all the tools to move his career forward.

Up above on the main stage were Spoke Too Soon. This was a pure, honest blast of pop punk. Their sound is somewhat generic but the energy and enjoyment that surrounds them is quite infectious. With Joe Stainke stepping back from lead vocal, since the last time I saw them, and with Cameron Grant taking over these duties there is a real bounce to the band. They’re fun. That is where they are and where they want to be.

Back to the solo act slots and it was Logan McGee. Logan by his own admission is not a prolific songwriter but leans towards covers. That may not be his forte but he does know how to mash up and arrange a couple of tracks. A bit of Adele and Buble (being pedantic I’d say Nina Simone) and throw in some Cranberries and you start to see where Logan is coming from. He picks and chooses to his strengths. He does this ably but I just wonder what Logan could do fronting a band. Just a thought.

Ending off the first half were The Strives. Once again we had a little known band turning up from out of town making out they were here to make us sit up and take notice. I had little preconceptions of The Strives but hey, give them their moment, then we can move on. Ok that was a slight exaggeration but The Strives did everything I would not expect an unknown, not just to me, band to do. Quite simply they fucking nailed it.

Loaded with well founded attitude there was a swagger, a confidence and they were a real vein bursting shot in the arm. Monkeys, Bugg and even Kings of Leon influences were fused within this most assured performance. Catch Pokemon? No, catch The Strives.

Back in the shadowy corner it was Tamzene who had the unenvious task of following on from The Strives. Thankfully Tamzene has a voice, a very big voice. Tamzene can be seen occasionally busking on the High Street with her guitar but tonight it was from behind a keyboard she gave her captivating performance.

As well as her own material Tamzene knocked out her cover of Emili Sande’s ‘Read All About It’. I can’t help but think with Tamzene’s range, engaging personality and no small measure of talent she would be a prime candidate for a shot at an X Factor type show. Maybe get that thought out my head but there is a popular appeal to what she produces and was able to keep an audience absorbed throughout.

Edging up a decibel or five were Pure Grief. Hailing from Thurso this noisy 3 piece dripped their surprisingly (and I’m not sure why I was surprised) melodic rock all over the venue. It prompted much leaping and bouncing from an enthusiastic little group at the front. A real contrast to the act before but it was a real injection of raw power to light up the main stage. They kick up a real storm. Good grief, Pure Grief you know how to lay it down.

So two to go and a calm once again descended upon The Ironworks as Laurence Made Me Cry, aka Jo Whitby, who tells tales with subtlety. Exquisitely crafted songs cry out Jo as a very gifted talent. Again, an act that held the audience. It is so easy to get drawn into Jo’s compositions. Light in touch but strong in hold. A fine way to round off the acoustic stage.

Finally it was Dr Wook and the Voltaic Disorder. I say finally as I find 8 acts in one night more an ordeal than a pleasure. That’s no reflection on the bands but 8 acts without gap is a real assault on the senses. The crowd ebbed and flowed throughout the night as they came and saw the bands that they bought their tickets for. Not a criticism of the audience as again, asking people to watch 8 acts is a lot to ask especially with the eclectic mix of styles.

Anyway, back to Dr Wook et al. Dr Wook on a solo slot tends towards the Seasick Steve school of fashion but tonight he, and special mention to Iain Mclaughlin, were pimped up to the nines. It was a little surreal, in no small part to the effect of the fine Heverlee served at the Ironworks, having what to me a bunch of Colombians playing Billy Idol’s (I’m sure Billy Ocean was mentioned at some point) White Wedding. So yeah, my recollection is hazy and my notes are illegible, but if it wasn’t up to much I would have walked out. I’m like that at my age, mid to late forties and all that.

Overall, some very fine performances but just too much for one night. Am I the only one that feels this way?

Photos of the night can be found here.

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Chartered surveyor by day, music reviewer by night, and occasionally I get to use my camera. A strange mix, but one that I enjoy. A chance meeting in the queue for Bella in 2010 led to the opportunity to write for InvernessGigs; a far cry from the days of writing for a football fanzine back in the late 80s, early 90s. My interests lie between the mainstream, the emerging and the local. Increasingly I find that we have more than enough locally to entertain us to necessitate a trip south. I’m always happy to give a listen, whatever the genre. Inverness has a plethora of talent, all of which I am more than keen to write about. If it encourages just one person to make the effort to listen to some new music I’ll be happy. You can contact Frank direct via