Saturday, 25 October 2014


Whelan's, Wexford Street, Dublin - 25th October 2014
(Great little venue - take the virtual tour here)


Genevieve - intro
I was first introduced to Lucius by Jools Holland's "Later" TV programme on April 22nd this year. I had tuned in specifically to listen to Paolo Nutini but was a little underwhelmed by his live performances on the show. In contrast, I was completely blown away by the two identically dressed girls and the three guys who performed "Go Home" and "Turn It Around". I immediately looked online - "if they were on Jools, they must be on a UK tour" I thought. I was right, but I'd just missed them. They had played Stereo in Glasgow on the 20th April! Then they were off on a US-wide tour for 5-6 months. In fact it seems that they've been touring for about 20 months with little respite, so when I saw the Dublin gig pop up on Songkick I think I might have purchased the very first tickets.

Whelan's was completely sold out (just over 400 people) and the packed crowd had obviously enjoyed the support Lapland (see below) but were eager to see the main act. They didn't have too long to wait as Peter Lalish (guitar), Andrew Burri (guitar and percussion) and drummer Dan Molad took to the small stage to loud cheers. Peter laid down the guitar melody while Andrew and Dan started the unmistakable percussion intro to Genevieve. 
Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig then came on stage in matching red outfits and blonde bobs, to even louder cheers, and added to the drumbeats, before launching into their trademark powerful harmonies "ooh wa-wa, ooh wa-a". This is the band's standard live opener and it sounded quite different from the recorded version on the "Wildewoman" LP - much more explosive and really tight soaring vocals. They ended the track on a glorious Lalish guitar riff and sudden combined drum crash. Silence, for about 5 milliseconds, and the crowd went wild. This was going to be good, I just knew!

Jess tends to be the chatty one on stage and she shouted out "Hi Dublin - great to be back here" (Lucius played The Workman's Club in April 2014). The vocal crowd responded with big cheers.
Photo courtesy of Maja Smiejkowska
Tempest was the next track - a long intro and some glorious closing harmonies from all five of the band. Followed by Don't Just Sit There which heralded the start of the crowd singalong participation. 

Wildewoman, the title track from their debut LP was notable for the falsetto male harmonies, some wonderful guitar from both Lalish and Burri and more audience contribution to the vocals.

The band rattled through the rest of the album, with obvious enjoyment of the appreciative Dublin crowd. The live versions were just so powerful with much more energy than I remembered from the digital/vinyl versions. One of the highlight moments was a truly epic version of "Go Home" where Jess asked "Do you guys know all the words?" and holding microphones out, she and Holly allowed the audience to sing almost all the choruses and some verses.

Crowd singing almost drowns out Jess and Holly

There is no doubt that Jess and Holly are the main focus of attention on stage, and genuinely connect with the audience, whether they are on keyboards, drums or vocals (impressively, occasionally all three) and the 3 chaps kinda stay out of the limelight, but from the first time I heard Go Home I was really impressed with Lalish and Burri's guitar sound. Never overbearing, never drowning out the others with the guitar hero thing, they just add such sublime layers and beautiful riffs that complement the vocals. I also had not realised, from listening to the album, what a driving force Dan was on the drums. In a live environment I suddenly understood how much of the band's appeal comes from his percussive rhythms. 

Jess and Holly suddenly produced pint glasses of Guinness (I think they were offered by crowd at the front) and to the delight of the onlookers, proceeded to down a good quantity of each pint. They probably needed fluids, they'd already finished the water bottles distributed on stage, and the heat in Whelan's was intense. "We're feeling your sweat up here" Jess explained.

After an excellent rocking version of Nobody Knows How Loud Your Heart Aches and Hey Doreen, the girls took front stage and using a single retro looking dual microphone they performed Wonderful (a My Morning Jacket cover) and Monsters - both slow-tempo numbers that emphasised the quality of the harmonies and unison vocals.

Slowing things down a little

Back into full blown action the band then performed Turn It Around, everyone participating on vocals ... which then morphed into a couple of verses and chorus of the Whitney Houston song I Wanna Dance with Somebody.. end of the first set.

The audience wanted and expected more, and made a huge amount of noise. Clapping and cheering to start, and then chanting "One more tune, one more tune" until of course the band came back. Lucius genuinely looked like they were having fun and didn't want to stop yet.

Jess quietened the audience and said "OK, we're going to do a couple of numbers without mikes so you'll have to be a little quiet" and she and Holly jumped down off the stage, followed by the chaps armed with acoustic guitars and a single drum. They wormed their way into the centre of the crowd and formed a small circle. This was obviously a well rehearsed move, but it didn't fail to impress all the same, as they launched into a beautiful, poignant The Two Of Us On The Run. This was sublime stuff, and they were so confident in amongst the rough and tumble of the crowd.

When they managed to quiet the crowd down again after this first encore, Jess said "Thank you so much Dublin. After being on the road for nearly 2 years, this is exactly what we needed - we love you guys." 

They followed this with a Kinks cover 'Strangers'. Again heart-searchingly beautiful harmonies, lovely duelling guitars and containing the appropriate lyrics "we are not two, we are one". 

The band then gave their thanks to crowd, and while receiving kisses and claps on the back, they made their way, not back to the stage but off to the left where there was a raised area with a hastily constructed merchandise stand. There they stayed for another 20-30 minutes, signing album covers, posters, t-shirts and generally chatting with the adoring punters. 

This was a gig that I will remember for a LONG time. 

--- Setlist ---

Don't Just Sit There 
Nothing Ordinary
Go Home
Until We Get There 
Nobody Knows How Loud Your Heart Aches
Hey Doreen
Wonderful  (My Morning Jacket cover)
Turn it around
I Wanna Dance with Somebody  (Whitney Houston cover)

--- Encore --- Acoustic in middle of crowd.... 
The Two Of Us On The Run 
Strangers (Kinks cover) 

The support was: 


Lapland is the pet project of Josh Mease (orginally from Texas, but now hailing from Brooklyn, NY, where the Lucius connection came about). The self-titled album was released earlier this year and when touring relatively locally in the US, Lapland are a 4-piece band. On this occasion it's Josh Mease on his own ("too expensive to tour as support with full band" Josh explains).

Lapland - Josh Mease

Josh engaged well with the swelling crowd, introducing the songs as "this is a country song", or "this is make-out song" and most strangely "Anybody here affected by asthma? Well this is a song about asthma" Metal Lungs.

His guitar playing was excellent and he also made good use of loop-pedals to accompany himself both with guitar and vocals for several songs. The overall feel and sound, initially sparse with just Josh on guitar, grew to sound like a full band with backing vocals as the set progressed. I was impressed enough to go buy the CD from the man himself after the show. Sample some of the tracks from Lapland here 

There was the carnival-esque atmosphere of “Memory, the jazzy shuffle of “Overboard” combines melancholy, minor-key verses with a breezy, harmony-filled chorus, while “Aeroplane” and “Fountains,” both feature 3/4 waltz time signatures. “Metal Lungs” rambles along with a chugging rhythm, twangy guitars and a catchy chorus, and standout track “Where Did It Go” ups the level of looped backing to semi-band levels.

The overall impression was of songs composed with great care and attention, initially sounding a little superficial, but with deeper introspective tones. Imagine Prefab Sprout meets Fleetwood Mac (from their Rumours days) and you'll be fairly close.

--- Setlist --- (needs some work)
Drink Me Dry
Make out song ?
Metal Lungs
Medley - Overboard, Aeroplane, Fountains?
Where did it go

Friday, 17 October 2014

Dan Croll

The Liquid Room, Edinburgh - 17th October 2014

Dan Croll

My initial introduction to Dan Croll was one of those "listen to this fabulous new artist" emails that seem to arrive every day in my inbox. The track that was being promoted in 2012 was From Nowhere and it did prompt me to investigate further. Wikipedia said: "Daniel Francis "Dan" Croll (born 18 July 1990) is a British singer-songwriter born in Newcastle-under-Lyme. He moved to Liverpool when he was 18 to attend the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). While at LIPA, he won the national Songwriter of the Year award and was one of eight students picked to have a one-to-one with LIPA founder Sir Paul McCartney."

The song that really piqued my interest later was Home, released in Dec 2013, which is a beautifully written, slightly tongue in cheek, song about Dan's feelings about family and home, and how good they make him feel.

This gig in the Liquid Rooms was part of Croll’s first headline tour in support of his debut album, Sweet Disarray released earlier this year.

The band came on followed by the man himself, looking every part the slightly gauche, naive frontman. They wasted no time in launching into ‘Compliment Your Soul’ to the roaring response of the audience. This was followed by ‘Thinkin Aboutchu’ and ‘In/Out’, exploring the diverse range of genres and abilities that Croll demonstrates throughout Sweet Disarray. The translation of the album to the stage is as impressive as Croll’s repertoire itself – the electronic beats, the alluring guitar hooks, the catchy choruses; all these sound better and more dynamic when experienced live.

His appearance belies his confidence on stage however and there is no pretension or shyness in his stage persona, as he engages frequently and cheerfully with his band and audience. He went into great detail on the delicacies they had sampled in Pizza Express at the top of Cockburn Street just before the gig - Calzones all round apparently.

The band have worked with the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo recently in Durban, on Hello My Baby and Ever At Your Side, and the quality of the harmonies during those songs was testimony to that collaboration. Beautiful stuff.

They polished off the first set with a stonking version of Home, complete with serious audience singalong and some wild dancing in the front few rows of the crowd. The band departed while the audience called for more, more.

When they did return, it was to perform a stripped back and very mellow encore set, starting off with his first ever single Marion, followed by Eyes Together and the title track from the new LP.

As I left the Liquid Room I reflected on the show. Well put together set, good songs well performed. I'm sure the lad from Staffordshire will do well. I even had the opportunity to chat briefly to Peter Kirk of Panama Wedding. All in all a great evening!

--- Setlist ---
Compliment Your Soul 
Thinkin Aboutchu (sic) 
Only Ghost 
Can You Hear Me 
Must Be Leaving 
Wanna Know 
Hello My Baby 
Ever At Your Side 
From Nowhere 
Always Like This 

-- Encore: --
Eyes Together 
Sweet Disarray 

Panama Wedding 

New York based quartet Panama Wedding opened proceedings with a rousing set of their lively synth-guitar-pop, delivering a joyfully upbeat and infectious sound.

Panama Wedding
The group, formed from the computer-based solo work of front man Peter Kirk before expanding into the multi-instrumentalist four-piece we see today, have grown in status this summer after the success of their EP Parallel Play. Tracks such as ‘All of the People’ and ‘Una’ exemplify their feel-good, boppy motif, and they were revelling in the opportunity to impress a wider audience during their supporting tour with Dan Croll. The crowd response was really positive – if at first unsure, the dancing and applause as the set came to a close confirmed the deserved popularity of Panama Wedding.

--- Setlist ---



(Unknown) ("Sit Outside")
(Unknown) ("Don't Give Up")

All Of The People 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Olive Grove Label Showcase - The Pleasance Sessions

Olive Grove Label Showcase

11th October 2014 - The Pleasance, Edinburgh

 On the bill were: Call To Mind; Skinny Dipper; The Moth & The Mirror; Woodenbox

In the courtyard of the Pleasance Theatre they were holding the Och!toberfest Beer Festival - a lovely candelabra lit marquee offering liquid delights from a diverse selection of brewers. One of Stewarts and one of Dusty Moose, plus a generous helping of haggis, neeps and tatties, left us in a good mood and ready for anything.
Och!toberfest Marquee
Organised by Lloyd Meredith and his team, Olive Grove Records showcase main aim is "is to release good music and not lose too much money". Lloyd was wandering about in his natty "I Can't Dance To This Music" baseball cap, enjoying the ambience.
The theatre was barely half full when we arrived, so we plumped for some near-front seats and relaxed, listening to the eclectic mix of tunes the DJ/sound guy was playing. 

The stage

Call To Mind 

..were up first, and I was really looking forward to their set - in fact they were the main reason I was there. I'd seen them once before in Glasgow as part of a fund-raising event for the Cairn String Quartet and had followed their progress ever since, and purchasing their debut LP The Winter Is White some months ago. The album is full of beautifully crafted tunes and I'd recommend listening to it here.
Normally the lineup consists of brothers Martin Ross (vocals, keyboards and guitar) and Jamie Ross (guitar, vocals) with Andrew Masson (bass), Joe Smillie (drums), Steven Gribbin (guitar, vocals). Unfortunately they were without a keyboard player on this occasion. 
Call To Mind
This meant that as a 4-piece, the beautiful swirling sounds (described by one critic as "how Joy Division would sound covering Dark Side Of The Moon") I'd hoped to hear were marred by excessive guitar feedback, and too-loud guitar loops. I seldom recognised much of what they played.  

The one exception was "Untitled" which started off really well, then the overbearing guitar kicked in and it was lost.

I was really disappointed, and my gig-buddy was even more vocal in dislike. Such a shame as I really do think they've got great potential, but it didn't show here.

--- Setlist probably included ---

A Family Sketch 
Over The Machair 

Skinny Dipper

This was the second time I'd seen the Skinnies and they didn't fail to impress again.

Skinny Dipper
Skinny Dipper are made up of members from an array of Scottish talent including: singer Alex Kenzel (blochestra), bass player Vicki Cole (Randolph’s Leap) violinist Heather Thikey (Randolph’s Leap, Kill The Waves), trumpet player Ali Hendry (Randolph’s Leap), keyboardist and vocalist Gillian Higgins, violinist Cat Calton (Aerial’s Up), Ruth Campbell (Aerial’s Up, Quickbeam), Monika Gromek (Quickbeam) and Iain Symes-Marshall (Trapped In Kansas).
Higgins and Kenzel took it in turns to provide lead vocals and the whole ensemble joined in to provide a gorgeous wall-of-sound on Hospital Bed.

Great set!

---Setlist included ---
Hospital Bed

The Kids Are Moving On 
Son Of A Mitch

The Moth & The Mirror

The Moth & The Mirror

The Moth & The Mirror have been proclaimed as a Scottish supergroup, comprising of members taken from an array of Scottish talent including: Stacey Sievwright from The Reindeer Section and Arab Strap (vocals/guitar), Gordon Skene from Frightened Rabbit (guitar/vocals), Louis Abbott from Admiral Fallow and Song of Return (guitar/vocals) Kevin McCarvel (bass), Iain Sandilands (percussion) and Peter Murch (drums).

Entertaining set, with a couple of fun moments - one where there was a 10-15 second pause before the song continued. Explained afterwards as a "special version" due to forgotten words, currently not available on the new album Honestly, This World.

Sievewright's vocals were strong and she and Skene are definitely the frontmen, working off each other and enjoyable to hear.

-- Setlist included --

Everyone I Know
Beautiful Creature 

Honestly, This World 
Hope Is An Anchor 
Oceans & Waves 


Some may know the band as Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, but the 6-piece have decided to shorten it down to the humble Woodenbox. Now signed to Olive Grove they have gained a reputation for great live gigs with a mariachi trumpet backing (3 of them).
I enjoyed their first few numbers, but was not able to stay for the full set. 
Highlights were Besides The Point and Hang The Noose.

Definitely worth another listen here 

-- Setlist included --
Besides The Point
Everyone Has a Price
Twisted Mile
Hang The Noose