The Netsounds Xmas Special, including The Roov, Tamzene and more at Ironworks Inverness.

A festive showcase of local talent has been a relatively regular occurrence at the Ironworks since 2011. In its current form the Netsounds lads curated a seasonal special, with four bands and 4 four solo acts described as “an eclectic line-up of rising talent”.

First up is singer-songwriter Sarah Gallacher, her songs are loaded with a contemporary charm but carrying celtic and country influences. ‘AWOL’ is a particularly fun, brutal attack on an ex-boyfriend and set-ender ‘Tinder’ casts an eye over the challenges of internet dating. Sarah has a genuine talent that shines bright and captivates the audience.

The nature of the evening means that contrasts are to be expected, The Hunt are certainly that. A long intro serves to build anticipation for Alex and Liam who unleash an impressive array of indulgent retro guitar licks. Indulgence does seem to be a recurring theme, as the band challenge convention with a slurry American vocal and a front man with an enormous amount of onstage confidence.

Fort William’s Keir Gibson has an unassuming approach that lures the listener to his music. The audience take a little time to adjust (or shut up, depending on your stance) but once they do they are rewarded to an intimate and emotionally provoking set of tunes. ‘For Me’ champions the impact and stories of homelessness and showcases Keir’s aptitude for storytelling in his music.

Calum Mackenzie Jones is joined by his band for the first of eight consecutive nights of gigs over the festive period. The band ,as a whole, ooze a prodigious amount of talent that tonight is focussed on upbeat indie-rock. ‘Iona’ is given an airing and is a perfect choice for the evening but it ‘Flat Line” that has the biggest impact contrasting with the rest of the tunes and cutting a powerful resonance. New album ‘Lost My Way’ is out now.

Tamzene’s ‘Last Song’ has been collecting a lot of attention since its release in December with Spotify listens benefitting from it’s inclusion in a collection of well respected play-lists. As such her performance was well anticipated and did not disappoint, leading to XpoNorth describing it as “utterly sublime”. Tamazene’s voice is certainly as enchanting as it is commercial, certainly not out of place in the charts given the right circumstances.

Lossie’s The Roov are introduced as evidence that “Indie Rock n Roll is alive”, but they are a more complex unit to describe at times they have a retro disco pop sound akin to The Scissor Sisters. Regardless of genre, The Roov are established as one of the most exciting bands in the area, with latest release ‘Nevada’ cementing this.They have brought their own fans, as they did for their last minute gig at Belladrum but even the most non-partisan of audience members surely will have gotten into The Roov by the end of the set.

Final acoustic act of the night is relative newcomer Roddy Johnson whose journey, from MacGregors to sell-out performance at the Netsounds Little Bird Sessions and Belladrum, is impressive. Any act that can mash together “King of the Swingers” with Eminem deserves praise, but Roddy does so much more.

By the time The Dazed Digital Age take to the stage it’s a tall order to keep the audience on board, however unsurprisingly they manage. Wielding the punchier lines of New Order, the power of early Human League. It’s 80s but from an underground bar as opposed to the day glow of the Rewind Festivals. Darkly anthemic and strongly hypnotic.

The showcase format has had it’s ups and downs over the years, but for the end of 2019 it end on a high.

If you would like a look down memory lane, here is our coverage of previous showcases.