Friday, 18 April 2014

Eilidh McKellar

Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh 18th Apr 2014

Eilidh McKellar is a 20yr old guitarist and songwriter from South Queensferry. 2014 looks like being a landmark year for Ms McKellar - just finishing a successful mini-tour, she is due to graduate from Leeds College of Music this summer and shortly after will release her first album, Delta Devil Dreams (link below), as she moves forward in her full-time music career.

Some biog stuff: Eilidh started playing the guitar when she was 9 years old. In 2011 Eilidh began uploading performance videos to YouTube, initially to raise her profile and to help with music college applications, which landed her at the Leeds College of Music. She also began performing on the local Edinburgh blues scene, firstly at the Voodoo Rooms. This provided Eilidh with opportunities to jam with established musicians such as Oli Brown and James Burton. One of the highlights of her early career was performing with legendary blues/rock guitarist, Joe Bonamassa. Joe had seen Eilidh on YouTube and asked her to join him on stage. Watch and listen here Joe Bonamassa with guest Eilidh Mckellar, Glasgow April 4th 2012. Over the last couple of years she has released a couple of singles  ‘Hold Steady’ and ‘Summer Daze’ - listen on YouTube.
I saw Eilidh once before at the Caves in Edinburgh in Dec 2013, supporting Matt Schofield, but this was her first ever headline show in her home city of Edinburgh. The Voodoo Rooms venue was really packed, and the crowd welcomed Eilidh and her recently formed band to the stage with much noise. Although grinning from ear to ear, Eilidh looked a wee bit nervous initially, and didn't say much more than "Hi". Instead she launched into the first song, Killer Joe. The sound was great in the small venue and it was obvious that this was going to be a killer :-) show. By the time the band launched into the next song, Summer Daze, they were all smiling, and the interplay between the musicians was a joy to behold. Summer Daze has a singalong chorus and the band were playing as such a tight unit with Eilidh riffing up front. The second single Hold Steady followed. Another catchy tune which gave Eilidh the opportunity to show her skills - never overdone, but well executed.
The band were epic and they were: Declan Muldoon (drums), Santino Cocchiarella (guitar), Josh Pamplin (bass), Mali Campbell (backing vocals) and Dan Hudson (keyboards).

Favourite moments were: 
  • the beautifully understated Avenue E 
  • and The City where Eilidh and Declan's guitar/drums intro gave me goosebumps
  • a great cover of Lipstick Wonder Woman (Tyler Bryant)
Set-list was: 

The only (minor) criticism of the gig was that the vocals were not quite as clear as I would have liked, and having listened to the Delta Devil Dreams tracks before the gig, I was slightly disappointed that Eilidh's lyrics could not being heard too well. Still, everyone left with a smile on their faces, and Eilidh and the band packed their stuff into their van and headed back to Leeds. 

Listen to her new album Delta Devil Dreams on SoundCloud, due to be released later in 2014 (Oct I think)


..were the support on this occasion.They are, and I quote from their own website "a no-holds barred electric blues rock band from central Scotland" led by frontman Greig Taylor (GT) and lead guitarist John Boos with bassist David Atkinson and drummer Stephen Coetzee to complete the line-up. The band was joined by harmonica ace Jim Harcus from Wang Dang Delta for this live show. They are currently touring to promote their debut album 'Steak House' (listen here: Steak House).
Top blues band - if you get the chance, go see them!!!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Withered Hand

Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh 17th April 2014

Schedule for the evening:

Dan Mutch - 19:30 - 20.00
Jo Foster - 20:15 - 20:45
Withered Hand 21:00 - 22:00

Withered Hand

I've been following Dan Willson (Mr Withered Hand) since about 2009 when the album Good News came out. Various EP's were available before and after this album:  
Religious Songs (2008), You're Not Alone (2009), Heart Heart (2012) and Inbetweens (2012)
..but it was the release of New Godsin March 2014, that really got the media all fired up. The album contained guest appearances from a veritable who’s who of Scottish music include: King Creosote, Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines, and members of Belle & Sebastian (Stevie Jackson, Chris Geddes) and Frightened Rabbit (Scott Hutchison). Listen to some samples from New Gods here
The gig in Edinburgh's Liquid Rooms featured the full New Gods band: Alun Thomas, Malcolm Benzie, Pam Berry, Fraser Hughes and Peter Liddle. Even Kenny Anderson (Mr King Kreosote) came to watch.

Dan was on fine form - joshing with the very receptive crowd "This is the first time we've played a venue with crowd control barriers" (there was a rail just in front of the stage) and "So nice to play Edinburgh again - not too far to go home tonight".
They kicked off with Horseshoe (Here I stand with a face like somebody died, when you're ignoring me) and Black Tambourine (I'm older now, but I feel the same & isn't everyone lonely?) - real crowd pleasers. The sound was really great in the small venue, with saxhorn, trumpet, cello, guitar, bass, accordions, drums and lots of backing vocals.

Much has been said about Dan's childhood spent as a Jehovah’s Witness and his formative years chasing punk music and failed romance. These influences shone through in his songs,  each delivered with rich and self-effacing wit.
Favourite moments were Love Over Desire, King of Hollywood and Between True Love and Ruin - all up-tempo full band epics. Funniest moment - the Band launched into Not Alone, and as Dan started to sing, he forgot the words. Stopping the band he said "You know, I wrote the words on my arm" (shows the crowd) "but when I'm playing guitar, I can't see what I've written!". Dan then read his arm carefully, and trying to be serious, launched into Not Alone take 2 - occasionally glancing at the lyric crib on his arm with comic effect. Not Alone was a horn filled epic and completed the main set.

The encore was enthusiastically called for, and Dan returned to the stage alone to perform Cornflake (John Harvey Kellogg doesn't want me for a sunbeam, Won't someone help me roll away the stone). The rest of the band then returned, and they finished with Religious Songs (my hair’s getting too long for this congregation) and Heart Heart, a fine pop-thrash finale.

It was a very fine performance, and we all left feeling Not Alone

Full set-list was:
Black Tambourine
New Dawn
King of Hollywood 
Love over Desire
Between True Love and Ruin
New Gods
Fall apart
Not Alone x2
Cornflake (solo just Dan on guitar)
Religious songs
Heart Heart

Jo Foster

Singer songwriter and musician originally from London, but now living in Fife, Jo Foster plays piano and guitar (and apparently paints and makes pottery too). She came to my attention when she sang vocals on Withered Hand’s debut album “Good News” and was part of the original Fence Records Collective. Her songs are melodic and reminiscent of many genres (e.g. she gave a fine performance at the Ivor Cutler tribute gig in Aberdeen in Jan 2007). Captain Geeko on drums, Uncle Beesly on bass.
Jo seemed pleased to be there and had many supporters in the crowd. Her voice (and range) was impressive, the songs were well written, and obviously often performed  numbers. She said at one point "Sorry, I'm not saying much - normally I ramble on a great length, but we've only got 30 mins" so I was left guessing at the set-list as she didn't announce a single number. She switched from guitar to keyboards half way through and her songs were sometimes upbeat, with drums and bass driving the rhythm, and sometimes very ethereal. I enjoyed Jo's set and was pleased to see that she got a good reception.

Here are some samples of Jo's songs on the Web:
MadelainaDead Songs Of The SeaI Walk In The Room

Set-list was (roughly I think):
I Walk In The Room 
Dead Songs Of The Sea
Home Town?
Looking all my life 
Hold On Gordon

Dan Mutch 

I was not sure what to expect of Dan Mutch - described variously in the press as "Edinburgh-based arthouse indie maverick" and "mercurial junkyard auteur" with "manic spleen-venting songwriting". He was a major part of the bands Khaya, then Desc, and is now involved in The Leg. Some reviews of his more recent work with The Leg were not entirely encouraging, but he did write "Joy" on the Withered Hand Good News album, and that's a fine track. Anyway this was to be a solo outing for Dan, so I was definitely willing to listen and make up my own mind.
Dan strolled onto the stage with his guitar and sat with it on his knee. He began to play some rather impressive slide and I thought "this is going to be good". 
However, Dan then began singing. A song I can only guess was called Tarantula Nebula (I don't eat spiders and I sleep in a bed) - this was William Burroughs meets Mark E Smith stuff. Definitely an acquired taste. Someone not too far from me said "I don't like Dan Mutch much" but the songs and the playing were actually very good, it was the delivery and lyrics that let them down IMO.
Make your own mind up - listen to some tracks here: Oozing A Crepuscular Light Nov 2013 - The Leg

Set-list was (but I am guessing mostly): 
Tarantula nebula?
An Eagle To Saturn
God Don't Like it
Jungle Bells in Summertime
Floating up to the surface?
Dam Uncle Hit

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Lloyd Cole

Lloyd Cole - solo acoustic performance Sat 05th April 2014 at The Queen's Hall

The former Newington and St Leonard’s Church opened as the Queen’s Hall in 1979 and has become one of Edinburgh’s better venues almost by default – everywhere else with a decent musical hinterland has been redeveloped or shut down. You’re more likely to be listening to an artist in hushed silence than throwing yourself about in a moshpit – but for punters of a certain age going to see performers of a certain age, it cannot be beaten: it’s atmospheric and intimate. 
Picture courtesy of The Queens Hall

At about 20:10 Lloyd took the stage to much applause. No band to back him, just Cole stood before us in black jeans and a black velvet jacket. He had a two acoustic guitars and a bottle of water on the table beside the microphone. 
Without any fuss, and few words, he launched straight into Past Imperfect, followed by Rattlesnakes and Kids Today. 
At this point a late arriving group taking their seats at the front of the hall were greeted by Lloyd with "Welcome! Don't worry, you haven't missed much - just Rattlesnakes" :-)

“Now here’s a funny thing,” he said in a bout of self-analysis,“I’m 53 and here I am still singing songs I wrote when I was 27. And I find myself sympathising more with the characters in the songs than the 27-year-old who wrote them.” 

This year marks 30 years (30 years!) since the release of his classic album Rattlesnakes, and Cole still loves playing the oldies from across his 12 album back catalogue.
“Singing these songs makes me feel like the guy I was in my late twenties,” he says. “Only when I look in the mirror or run upstairs do I realise my actual age"

Picture courtesy of The Queens Hall
 His two-act plus encore set was extensive, with more than two dozen songs in a little over two hours, and covered the period from his most recent album, Standards (2013), right back to his Commotions days.

There were some nice touches - he suggested to his fans that they could probably date his songs from the number of times the words “babe” or “baby” were used, and added a few bars of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run to the end of Hey Rusty. He also covered Dylan’s I Threw It All Away in the encore.
At one point the enthusiastic audience began clapping along to one song, but badly out of sync - Lloyd told them "sing along by all means, but don't clap - you're all rubbish!"

---- Set 1 ----
Past Imperfect 
Kids Today 
Cut Me Down 
Why I Love Country Music 
Can't Get Arrested 
Late Night, Early Town 
Don't Look Back 
My Other Life 
Myrtle And Rose 
No more love songs
Perfect Blue

---- Set 2 ----
Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? 
It's Late 
Pay For It
Music In A Foreign Language
Blue Like Mars
No Blue Skies 
Jennifer She Said
Why in the World?
Period Piece 
Hey Rusty 
Perfect skin 
Unhappy song
Lost weekend 

-- Encore ---
Threw it all away
Forest fire 

Picture courtesy of The Queens Hall
The stripped back acoustic set emphasised the quality of his lyrical legacy and the changing styles with slightly bitter love songs like Period Piece, Music in a Foreign Language and Pay For It, all the way to Commotions classics such as Jennifer She Said, Perfect Skin and Lost Weekend. 
Excellent gig..... but I was left with the nagging question, how it would have sounded with a full band?