REVIEW | Sean McGowan – The Old Hairdressers (03.05.17)

sean mcgowanFor the better part of the last month, Southampton artist Sean McGowan has been touring across the UK, primarily landing shows in unfamiliar territories, and this included a Glasgow gig at The Old Hairdressers courtesy of The Colour Of Vinyl.

A trio of drunks being kicked out certainly made for an compelling start to the night…


Kyle Wood, aka Lovers Turn To Monsters, opened the show and dedicated all his songs to one of the aforementioned drunkees.

The most prominent aspect of Kyle was his knack for sharp writing; in particular, the tune about McDonald’s was brilliant. He also showed a fierce intensity with the snappy New Jersey.

Following that, he gave us a pair of neat tracks on the ukulele – 10pm, Still Hungover and James Earl Jones – before further entertaining us with Scottish Weekend, Not Going Out and Chainsaw.

Being our first time seeing Kyle, he did more than enough to retain our interest and left us pretty satisfied.


Benny Monteux from Edinburgh wasted little time, diving straight in with the very upbeat Greetings From Nowhere City.

The majority of the setlist covered personal subject matters based around Benny’s own life, such as breaking up in Red Doors, being the victim of a stalker in Devil Eyes and his relatable battle against anxiety as covered in Slow The Engines.

He kept the pace going with Find Your Soul and Let’s Be Friends, before offering us a stripped version of Teeth And Claws which was notable for a memorable chorus, plus there was some crowd participation involved; undoubtedly, the highlight of the set.

Wrapping up with Hold Tight, he had demonstrated great harmonies and tonnes of enthusiasm throughout, and it was all in all a performance that was very much worth our time and money.


Despite suffering from dramatic plane and taxi rides over the last day or so, among other plaguing personal events, Sean McGowan was raring to go.

Through the likes of No Show and Apple Core, Sean exhibited real depth and a sheer fervor, with him never appearing phony whatsoever; every single word and action was pure and genuine.

He gave a loving middle finger to his old workplace via £5.25 and thoroughly impressed us with the fantastic Neverland. Emotion shined through in the soft Patchwork and especially with Fill Your Boots. He brought it back up with Never Let Us In, before closing out with a robustly passionate piece titled All The Best.

Sean spent half of his time on stage chatting to and amusing all in the room with a range of life anecdotes. Through these, we were able to get to know him and he proved to be a cool and easy person to latch onto.

He was eternally grateful for everyone that made the effort to come down and see one man who had essentially traveled from one side of the country to the other, with little money to his name on top of that, to do what he does best, and it was exactly just that – his best.

There was absolutely no uncertainty when we say that this is one of the most gripping and gratifying performances we have had the pleasure of witnessing this year, and it is abundantly clear that Sean is destined for bigger things, and after all that he has accomplished both under his musicianship and over his life in general, he deserves everything that is coming to him.

 

REVIEW | Electric Honey Singles Launch @ Broadcast (02.05.17)

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Notable local music label Electric Honey were all set to release brand new singles from two quality acts under their wing that we were familiar with – DopeSickFly and Calum Frame – and to celebrate the occasion, as well as their 25th consecutive year as a group, they played host to the pair at Broadcast with a launch event…


…but before them was a very special guest in the form of rising artist Emma Gillespie, who we only recently became acquainted with. We had seriously enjoyed her Pier Siamese record, so we knew we were in for something awfully good.

The likes of MercuryPour It Out and an upbeat untitled tune had us hooked. In addition, the filling venue were respectfully silent for the teenage angst-fuelled Close To Love, the emotional You’ll Forget had us immersed with beautiful writing, and she finished up with a more or less perfect rendition of Maria McKee’s If Love Is A Red Dress .

She admitted to having concerns over being a bit rusty, as this was her first performance since her jump into motherhood, but you know what, one tiny miscue aside, we thought she was just fine. In fact, she was more than that; she was tremendous.

It comes as no surprise as to why Emma has quite the following preceding her.


We last saw Calum Frame sharing the main stage of the O2 ABC with Little Eye way back in December 2014, so seeing him again proved to be something that was a long time coming.

Sporting the most stylish of attires, he dished out a range of cracking indie-pop numbers such as Lead Me OnOne Generation and upcoming single ‘Till The Record Stops, with each of them featuring bouncy, toe-tapping melodies.

He also displayed the utmost confidence on stage, clearly being in the zone all the way thorough, not to mention his ensemble – which included fellow artist Cara Rose – all worked off Calum pretty well and showcased a fair amount of talent and energy in their own right.

As expected, entertaining stuff from a lad with plenty of potential that is being realised more and more by the day.


We had been thoroughly impressed by DopeSickFly‘s debut album last year, so we were eager to see them live for the first time ever.

After the quickest changeover ever, they teed off nicely with Barriers. After the crowd moved forward per request, they got the place riled up with Playing With Fire and Party, before captivating all with the catchy and evidently popular Hydroplane, which had a mixture of singing, dancing and synchronized la-la-la-ing on the go.

Things got interesting, as the second half turned into total bedlam. Standard practice suggests that we detail the readers on what transpired, but in this case, we will not dare spoil what went down because our words cannot do any justice whatsoever.

Eventually, they capped off with their sensational new track Affirmation Lover, in which after the demands for an encore were deafening. Much to the delight of the audience, they got just that and were sent to a frenzy once again.

Over the course of the set, the duo of Ant and Wendy killed it on the mic; Ant in particular was really charismatic and had a swift flow. On top of that, the riffs were just sweet and the rhythms were unbelievably funky.

We have been going to gigs for a long time now, and we can say without a shadow of the doubt that this was among the most unique experiences we have ever had in a music venue. We suppose there are worse ways to spend a Tuesday night.

 

REVIEW | Alburn – Alburn

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Ten years is an awfully long time in local music, but that’s exactly how long Alburn from Glasgow have been together for.

Since emerging all the way back in 2007, the rock quartet have went from strength to strength, giving us plenty of decent material and playing a long list of shows, but in their existence, the four have never had that definitive product that has cemented their sound and image…until now.

After slaving away for months and months, the guys have finally released their highly anticipated self-titled debut album, and the end result is a quality one.

There is not a second wasted as they erupt from the offset with Make You Mine, emanating a big vibe and being driven by a banging drum beat; the pace continuing with the bustling melody of Send Me Up. Commanding riffs and vivacious, brawn-bearing vocals are the most conspicuous aspects in the likes of FormBarnhouse and Green Saloon.

They simmer down for the reserved Cathexis which displays a fair amount of emotion and not much more than the subtle strumming of chords. They build and build, before exploding into the ferocious Catharsis, with the energy only escalating with the swift Lost, Faraway.

Through Salt And Water protrudes with a strong chorus, and from there they move onto Witches, which initiates smoothly, before slowly but surely firing up the intensity in the latter half and eventually bringing it all to an ample close.

A decade in the making, Alburn’s first go at a full-length record is a concise, headlong blitz that delivers nicely and gives the listener what is nothing short of an audible joyride.

 

 

REVIEW | New Hellfire Club Big Band Payday 2017 – Part 3 (Grand Ole Opry)

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After a pair of memorable shows at Ivory Blacks and The Hug & Pint, we were looking forward to finishing off the 2017 New Hellfire Club Big Band Payday with a jam-packed finale at The Grand Ole Opry, featuring a mixture of bands and unplugged performers.


Kicking off the event was Plectrum – a brilliant name for an acoustic artist, by the way – who delivered a short but sweet set, with the cream of the crop being Monster for it’s stand out writing and the spirited Words; both of which saw him really absorbed and in the zone.


After a swift changeover, The Fables got up and wasted no time at all, determined to get a party started in the venue.

By My Side was awfully catchy, Worry got quite the reaction as some folk sang and clapped along, and Sleeping On The Floor involved an overzealous guy taking it to the front of the stage, jumping up and down and fist-pumping with immense joy.

The bass lines were just superb, the solos were flashy and both the vocals and drumming were quality. The only downside is that at moments, there were screeches of feedback and some monitor issues which had the guys looking a bit flustered and that broke the immersion.

Regardless of that fact, they earned an ovation as they took their leave and deservedly so. They were a hell of a lot of fun and situated a standard to be topped.


We were desperately needing a breather after that, but luckily Lisa Kowalski were there to give us just that, holding our interest with some lovely harmonies and an elegant deposition. She shined well in the brief time she had.


Strung Out Nights was a different kettle of fish entirely.

There was a real angst and resentment in his voice, he strummed with a sharp animosity and his lyrics were blunt and provoking; not to mention there were regular bursts of naughty words that would have old Christian ladies shaking in her little shoes.

We loved every second of it, with him keeping us hooked end to end.


Daryl Sperry kept the pace going fine. His selection of tracks which included Me Myself And IEyes On Me and The Sun Is Out had spurts of energy, and with each he displayed confidence, crisp picking on the guitar and a genuine passion in his vocals.


Joe Bone & The Dark Vibes were our most anticipated of the night, as we had been dying to see them live for ages. The intro set the mood as the members emerged one by one.

Joe himself was a revelation. He was absolutely engrossed in the moment and emitted a mesmirising presence which had us totally sucked in and unable to avert our eyes. A unique, one of a kind frontman in every sense of the word.

The backing vocals from Sue were stunning, and the rest of the ensemble collectively produced some very compelling rhythms, as demonstrated in the likes of Voodoo BloodThe Exorcist and Benny Lynch, each sporting their own distinct styles.

To best describe their sound, we have to quote our gonzo journalistic friend Chris Herron – “The Doors slowed down on mescaline”. It was an unforgettable experience, to say the least.


Another reprieve was required as KC Johnston wrapped up things on the unplugged spectrum in solid, enjoyable fashion.

He came out donning pilot’s gear for reasons unknown to ourselves, although it only lasted one song as poor KC was boiling under it all, mos likely as the result of those pesky stage lights. He finished off with a medley that had us tapping our toes and a few audience members behind us chiming in.


And now for the main event – Jackal Trades. Before commencing, Mark led the people in a rousing, standing applause for both New Hellfire Club and the Grand Ole Opry, in respect of their services. Due to late-running, we unfortunately we had to leave mid-way, but we felt we got enough of our fair share.

As expected, we got to hear material from the fantastic Need The Character(s) album, with highlights such as Triangular TradesRabbie Burns Benefits and Miley Syria. Mark had an off-kilter, offbeat demeanor which, in conjunction with a fiercely direct tone and explicit writing in tow, kept us and the crowd in the palm of his hand.

Admittedly, we found the live performance to be a touch stilted and lacking a spark, but for the majority of it, we were moderately entertained by the content and it brought the annual weekender to a close quite well.

REVIEW | New Hellfire Club Big Band Payday 2017 – Part 2 (The Hug & Pint)

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in memory of

CRAIG KEARNEY (1992 – 2017)

After a successful first night at Ivory Blacks for their 2017 Big Band Payday, the good times rolled on for New Hellfire Club as the festivities continued at The Hug & Pint for a more intimate second night.


Opening things up were Rose City Blues, a duo consisting of Petra at the helm of the mic (and occasionally, the harmonica), and Chris holstering the guitar.

On offer, they had some catchy blues tracks such as Talking To The ManKiss and Down On My Luck, plus a couple of affectionate, low-key jazz ballads, but the highlight had to be the highly solemn acoustic piece Eddie Slovak.

It was not flawless, given the odd miscue in parts, but nonetheless we were very impressed by their sound and style.


Everywhere went up next and turned out a very fine, packed set where they gave us a mix of tunes; some upbeat, others a little slower exhibiting a fair deal of emotion, with most featuring brisk solos, polished double bass lines and good drum beats.

They delivered the greatest cover of You Know You Make Me Wanna Shout ever – if you were in attendance, you will know exactly why – plus being a “Bowie tribute band in denial”, they presented their own version of Rock N’ Roll With Me.

A solid showing that had us more or less hooked the whole way.


We were more than familiar with Colin Bell, aka Fallen Arches, and his half hour on stage was a memorable one.

Private Show made for a turbulent start, with two attempts to get going and the latter involving Colin being cut off as the mic dropped in front of his face, much to all our amusement. In fact, there was plenty of back and forth banter between him and the crowd.

The harmonies were passionate and his strumming strong, with focal points including LifelineForeign Noises and the title track of his upcoming album Pen To PaperSeventeen was depicted by incredibly emotional writing, and Colin gave a nod in tribute to our friend who had recently passed away. As you would expect, our eyes were close to welling up in that moment.

It was a performance that had us both hollering with laughter and on the verge of crying, so plenty of credit to Colin for being able to accomplish that.


Howson were the final act of the evening, and the heaviest on the line-up by light years.

The trio fired out raucous songs driven by fierce vocals, rushing riffs and punchy drumming, whilst showcasing tonnes of energy not seen with the others on the bill. They even got to squeeze in their first ever encore.

While glaringly different from the rest of the performers who participated, it was a short but pretty satisfactory manner in which to cap off night two of the weekend.

REVIEW | New Hellfire Club Big Band Payday 2017 – Part 1 (Ivory Blacks)

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As per tradition, New Hellfire Club compiled together their annual Big Band Payday, a three-day event dedicated to showcasing the best under-the-radar talent, whilst giving them the fairest deal possible.

For the first night, we made our way down to Ivory Blacks for a bill of acts fitting in the punk/rock category.


The trio of McCann were straightforward in style, more or less being power punk in the purest sense.

They played some catchy little ditties such as I Feel Alive Tonight and Old God. There was some technical issues as Andy suffered a broken string, but he would swap for his stunt guitar and they recovered nicely with A Thousand Year Sleep, driven by a cracking bass line as per Stephen.

A chap requested them to do ABBA’s Waterloo, which we only got for a split second, but they did give us a decent offering of Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus. Not too shabby, if we do say so ourselves.


The Double Standards displayed a youthful enthusiasm as they dished out some fast, fairly exciting tracks whilst showing bundles of energy.

Unfortunately, they were too reckless as their timing was consistently off. Granted, it improved somewhat in the later stages, but on the whole it proved to be a real, glaring hindrance that ruined our enjoyment of them. It was a shame given the potential definitely being there, and we don’t know if it was nerves or just a weak showing, but on this particular night, it went a bit awry.

They are set to play Rekt-Fest in June, which we happen to be attending, so we encourage the guys to tighten up their game a little, and we hope that when the aforementioned show comes around, we can see what they are truly made of, because we cannot deny that they possess a smashing, sizable sound.


We had heard positive things said about Geek Maggot Bingo for a while now, and once they were done, we could see why.

Keeping the chat to a minimum, the guys delivered a range of banging numbers like High Times, A Woman Called Dynamite and Really F***ed Up. Andy’s vocals were rough and vigorous, the riffs were fiesty and the groovy rhythms had a punky edge that had several attendees tapping their toes.

All in all, they exceeded our expectations and we can thoroughly recommend them to everybody.


And last but not least, we had Worse Than Moe, who proceeded to play a handful of material from their album The Ideal Of Youth, and a fair amount of highlights were created.

One Of The Girls and Wake Up had memorable melodies, and the guitars really shined in Could You Be. The sentimental pairing of I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier and Only Two People both featured some gripping writing, and the thrilling instrumental piece Butthead just about knocked our socks off.

Throw in some excellent harmonies and witty quips in-between, and you got an intimate, engrossing performance that capped off the first night of the Big Band Payday quite nicely.

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW | Last Night From Glasgow’s 1st Birthday Bash

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Over the past 12 months, a fledgling collective by the name of Last Night From Glasgow – founded by members of the “West Of Scotland Scalextric Appreciation Society”, supposedly – have been working hard to help support and build up some of the city’s finest independent bands and musicians. They have gained a lot of traction and garnered quite the following since they established.

They chose to celebrate their one year anniversary with a showcase at Stereo; on the bill, four incredible, very different acts who each had their own qualities to bring to the audience.

As we entered, we were greeted to fancy balloons and some Party Rings (not enough gigs have Party Rings, you know). The queue stretched all the way up the stairs, and doors had not even opened yet. We knew we were already in for a bustling ordeal at that moment, and as we all waited, there was very much a buzz in the air.


Up first were Sister John of the folk variety, of whom we were completely blind to, so we could not wait to discover something new, and overall they were awfully good.

Every tune in their repertoire was defined by smooth tempos, a blend of tender harmonies and a nice mix of guitars, bass lines and violin, with the highlight for us being Sweetest Moment.

They had a clear drawing power, given that the packed crowd gave them their utmost attention. A very fine start to the evening, with a solid impression being created.


Emme Woods stepped up next, with her famed chihuahua Bubbles laying in her cosy bed to commemorate her 11th birthday, although she did eventually wander off and explore before ending up in the arms of Neil McKenzie.

We were meant to see Emme on two previous occasions, but alas, problems arose and got in the way so we had to miss both events. This was a case of third time lucky, and let us say, the delayed wait was so worth it.

Captivating with the likes of It’s My Party, I’ve Been Running and the goosebump-inducing I Don’t Drink To Forget, she gleamed a serious aura of confidence, with a real grace and attitude visible on stage, not to mention bearing one of the most fiercely striking voices in the entire Scottish scene, which resonated in the now full venue.

A lot of credit also has to go to her entourage, who backed up and complimented her stylishly, particularly in the keys and brass department.

There is no meandering around the fact when we say she gave us an utterly sensational performance, proving herself to be a truly special and talented artist who deserves to go places.


Medicine Men have been picking up plenty of steam as of late, so there was a fair amount of intrigue going in for us and we were certainly impressed.

The quartet entertained with a long list of tracks allegedly inspired by mid-90s Jim Carrey movies, with most of them marked by fervent rhythms, slick riffs and simply dazzling synths.

With those components, they produced a strong vibe that radiated upon the crowd, with a number of them bobbing their heads along to the beats, ourselves included. Admittedly, the pace wallowed a touch in one or two spots, but they did wrap up in fiery fashion with the pleasing and energetic Out Of The Light.

While not our personal favourites here, we cannot deny their unlimited potential, bolstering a sound that should be getting them under the radar of many a record company sooner than later.


The headliners BooHooHoo made an instant impact on us last year, validating themselves as one of 2016’s most promising newcomers, and after eagerly awaiting to witness them live for the first time ever, we were not disappointed on the slightest.

They warmed up with some newer material before sending the audience into a frenzy with Now Is The Season, with attendees at the front dishing out moves; in particular, one chap in shorts threw out shapes like a machine.

The vocals throughout were fantastic, with Liz especially knocking it out the park in Dreams Tonight, or as it became known to be in this instance, “Chicken Tonight”. Folk got even wilder courtesy of Mould Me, highlighted by a staggering chorus and a sweet flute solo.

Their upcoming bass-driven single Fire involved a tights-donning chap – who will feature in the music video for the song, sparked by a run-in during a trip to the supermarket – taking centre stage and dancing impressively to his heart’s content like a man possessed, with all in the nearby vicinity spurring him on. End to end, the melodies were unbelievably intoxicating, the guitars great and the drumming loud and large.

It was nothing short of a spellbinding experience that earned BooHooHoo an immense ovation once it was over. Granted, there were slips in the early going but they mattered so little because we were just blown away and left elated as we made our exit.

Well done to all the acts who were involved in what had to be one of 2017’s best gigs yet, and we offer our sincerest congratulations to Last Night From Glasgow for what they have achieved. Here’s to another year for the label, and hopefully many more…