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OOTB 317 – 9 Oct 2008

Posted 09/10/2008 By admin

OOTB 317 – 16 Oct 2008
============================
Sam Barber, Neil Watson, Ross Neilson, Nyk Stoddart, Hannah O’Reilly, Dave
o’Hara, Broken Tooth, Gustav Gustav Gustav Holst, Bill Philip, Calum
Carlyle, Johnny Pugh, Sophie Ramsay, Stewart Maclenan and Graham McLeod

Sam Barber
‘Breadline’ is timely angst, economic or otherwise – “when those who win
rely on us to lose.” The words are spat out over chunky, aggressive
guitar. ‘The Choice of Heracles’ is not a Greek epic, but is more rousing
folk anthem “Easy to turn a new leaf, harder to plant a tree.” I don’t
remember Heracles having to plant trees, but whatevs. It’s been a wee
while since Sam graced our stage, and it’s a pleasure to see him back.

Neil Watson
Likewise with this chap, who begins with ‘Candlelit Wood.’ A hoarse voice
hovers over sparse strumming. ‘Alone’ is a song of extra-denominational
love pulling apart other relationships – “I can’t believe you let us stand
alone, now she’s gone.” Romeo and Juliet, basically. “You want us to make
it,” he protests on his last one. Ah – a good old tale of lopsided love.
When so often its passion that gets lyricised, it’s nice to see a bit of
apathy as song.

Ross Neilson
His style has been evolving over his time at OOTB, the performance more
polished, while the delivery harsher. He holds a long, raspy note for
effect, and lyrically, it’s about release – “high enough so I can ease my
mind.” High in the general sense, of course. “I don’t know bout Sunday
nights without you,” from his second, a slower tune that makes more of his
vox, which is improving. “I’m searching for an answer I’ve tried so hard
to find,” he sings on his last. Quick, get that man a self-help course.
Anyone have the number for a Buddhist retreat?

Stoddart
Manic plucking (not chickens, mind) is counteracted by lyrics of the
everyday – “when I’m on the phone, talking to you.” Interesting
combinations, though I prefer his more obscure stuff. Speaking of which,
when his second song includes such pragmatism as “it could be worse… I
still have my hands”, then you know you’re onto a winner. Such is ‘How I
met myself’. He ends with the crowd-pleasing Green Monkeys. He’s got a
schism in his prism, don’t you know.

Hannah O’Reilly
Just a squashee tonight, so I’m delighted when it’s a new offering – what
the night is all about. In fact, this is its first ever outing. “You were
a comfortable stranger, til you damn well knew me too well.” Clever lyrics
and an original theme. Soaring vox completes the package. It’s a keeper.

Dave o’Hara
He’s like one of those farts you used to do at school – silent but deadly.
Dave treats us to nylon-stringed instrumentals, on those rare occasions he
deigns to oblige. Cap down, eyes on the fretboard, his first is Spanish in
flavour. His second builds from simple, single note melodies. Timing has
to be precise with such a sparing arrangement, and is. It sounds like
Crocodile Dundee. His last, ‘Arabian Nights’ is tense and evocative. I
feel like I’m in the Aladdin Disney film. Where’s that monkey gone?

Broken Tooth
“I’ve lost my faith in love”, he sings. Sorry to hear that from such a
fresh-faced lad. Hope he recovers soon. Harsh muted strums cloud his next
– “you’ve got me weak in heart, so weak in the brain.” It seems to be
called ‘Going to the ocean’, but I’ll have to listen for more clues as to
why next time. ‘Miller’s Daughter’ is his final, and I must say, I was
most taken by it. Soft and harmonic, with interesting guitar thrown in.
There’s a lot to recommend it.

Gustav Gustav Gustav Holst
The ginger ones yells, “I’m made of dirt and clay and triumph and disgust
and failure…” And it’s all quite breathtaking. No-one puts more into a
performance than Calum Haddow. ‘Tetsuo’ (hope I spelled that right) is an
awesome epic of a land crushed by a lack of love. I think. For take-home
lyrics, look no further than “Wrong, little pig, you’ve gone wrong”, from
his final offering, ‘Death to the Animals.’ Gauntlet down. The depth,
variety of styles, and sheer power astounds.

Bill Philip
A couple of short poems from Bill this evening. The first might even be a
Haiku, and features few more lines than, “I’m angular, she said.” Bill’s
stuff is shrouded in metaphor then let loose. If there was ever a girl to
have said that, I suspect it now means more than it ever did then. ‘The
shortest day’ is a rallying cry never to clock watch, effective for its
attention to detail – “a death before midnight, or a birth just after.”

Calum Carlyle
Voice on top form tonight (for more of that, Calum is Featured Act this
week – do not miss), he squashees-in ‘Don’t go Away’. Calum revels in
taking a finger-twisting guitar part, then layering a howling vocal on
top. Add some audience toe-tapping, and you’ve got yourself some funky
acoustic cake. Probably cheesecake.

Johnny Pugh
The boy is a trooper. Having been highjacked to compere at about 5 minutes
to 8, he had a night of that to get through before playing his own set.
Worth the wait, though. “She comes to me in twilight” sets the tone for a
tale of desperation – “I asked her for rope, she gave me the noose.”
‘Don’t ask me more’, his second, is a timeless ballad with such gems as
“let the broken hearted ones forgive, though they won’t forget.” The trick
is in delivery, and you believe every lyric. The guitar plays perfectly to
the voice – never over each other. ‘Inertia’ continues the ear candy, and
when he sings “this love is unstoppable, when it’s on the way down,” there
is pin-drop silence.

Sophie Ramsay
The first time I’ve seen Sophie, but not the last, with any luck. “Your
soul is gone, and all there is, is body for me to see,” is a fine
metaphor, if it is one, on ‘Reverse Ghost’. Her lyrics are wonderful –
“Brown cow buildings rustle and ruminate and dream” – and all the better
for having some of the clearest enunciation I’ve ever heard on the
acoustic scene. It’s all so quiet and endearing, especially on her last,
‘Sorry’. It’s about apologising for not loving someone back, but put like
this, how would you not forgive? “If there was any sense in my heart, I
would love you, the way you love me.”

Stewart Maclenan and Graham McLeod
“Love, in a mist, surrounds us”, like the harmonies which are used
sparingly, but effectively by this pair. It’s very catchy stuff. ‘One way
street’ is a chilled little number, where the guitars play in harmony.
“Another lovely day spent dreaming,” it goes. Stewart tends to settle on a
decent lyric then go with it for most of a song, which highlights melody
over all else. Just when we relax, they finish with the finger-clickingly
good ‘Living on borrowed time.’ I’m been looking forward to seeing these
guys for some time. Hope they come back.

Compere – Johnny Pugh
Review – Rob Sproul-Cran
Sound – Jim Whyte

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OOTB 316 – 2 Oct 2008

Posted 02/10/2008 By admin

OOTB 316
Ms Fi, Nelson Wright, Tica, Nicky, Paul Hughes, Susanna and Gudrun, Calum Carlyle, The Weather Underground, Broken Tooth, Ross Neilson, Jenny, Kevin O’Neil, Casey Graham

Rob Sproul-Cran needs no introduction, and is on top compering form with musical trousers and all. He kicks things off with “I saw you cry, the day he died”… well I don’t know if that’s it’s name, but it is a beautiful, sparse and empty emotional landscape, over which his fragile voice flows (Rob can belt it out at times, but this seems to be a fragile voice song). Beautiful teary stuff.

Fiona J Thom in 2008

Fiona J Thom in 2008

Ms Fi treats us to two, I thought, new songs, but it turns out they may have been kicking around in a dark corner of her lair for months, nay years. I don’t know why they haven’t been out in the open much of late, because they are some of the best I’ve heard. Wonderful classical-style guitar parts with walking bass-lines and arpeggios and Ms Fi’s trademark Fi-rhythms. “Rise” delves into the grim world of having to get up for work on winter mornings in the dark, and the chaos ensuing from not being able to match up your socks. The second song is probably my fave, with a crisp clear vocal lamenting lost love (i think). It’s beautiful, the combination of guitar and melody. “Seems I’m false again, when I tried so hard to be true”. Truly top quality songstress-ing from the Fi, which literally has the crowd transfixed in silence.

Nelson Wright squeezes one song into a packed evening – “The Dream” is a musical re-creation of that weird confused state we sometimes find ourselves in when we awake from a bizarre dream. It’s atmospheric and other-worldly, with immaculate finger picking and slight discordance resonating through the spoken word verses to create a bewildering, intriguing eeriness which envelops us all.

Tica is relative new-comer to the old scene, and very glad she’s popped across the pond to see us. She has a unique take on the singer-songwriting thing, and I am already a big fan. Her funky little chord progressions and lyrics & vocal style which vaguely reminds me of Stephen Malkmus (Pavement front-man, this is a good thing, he is practically a god) are, well, very cool. Plus she is wearing a sideways baseball cap, which has to be cool. Probably the one of the most memorable songs of the evening is her first, where she asks “does she make you happy / does she make you crazy happy? Cos she’s he craziest bitch i ever knew”. Strong emphasis on the “bitch” bit. I tell you, I’ve had this song in my head for days since. The American twang and apparent randomness of some lyrics (“did we break his brain today?”), and melodies which veer into almost spoken word (but not quite) are refreshing – I recommend you get your hands on her CD!!

Nicky has only been on stage properly twice – this being the second time. She looks so confident, and her voice is so strong, you would never ever guess. She’s never had a guitar lesson but has been making stuff up for years, which results in some inventive guitar playing – not a G, C or Am in the house folks, which is one of the things that appeals so much to me. The first song features some pretty frantic guitar playing, and shows off the power in her voice. I didn’t totally catch the lyrics but there was definitely something about slippers (?!). “Ice Cream”, she tells us, is a kind of fairy tale story about a boy who lived on a bouncy castle and a girl who lived on the edge of time. This is not the sort of thing you hear every day, and it was an intriguing story. Another of my evening’s favourites was the third of her set, which had an amazing guitar riff using unusual chords and seemed to jump around all over the fret-board. ‘We can(’t?) stop the rain from falling’…her voice soars over the crazy chords. I’m sure Nicky will be back, a very promising OOTB debut from possibly the youngest performer we’ve had for a long time.

Paul Hughes is testing out 3 new songs on us tonight – solo rather than with his other half McQuade – who together did a storming featured slot recently. These are all well-constructed songs which don’t give away the fact that some of them or only 2 days old – an assured & confident performance. They all deal with that old love – the first one may be a celebration of new found love “hey hey, you take my breath away”, and the second (“falling”?) seems to be a lost love song – you can feel the pain in his voice, he cant get on his feet again cos he’s falling. Or is it ‘falling in love’? In the third song he asks “are you over me?”. Another heart-felt plead. I know these subjects are re-visited a million times by singer-songwriters, but you can never really have too much of it when it’s well done like this. We’ve all been there.

Susanna and Gudrun et a squashee slot and it’s really nice to have a break from the guitars for a bit, as Susanna takes out her trademark harmonium, and together with some breath-taking harmonies from Gudrun, they set about creating a whole new atmosphere – dreamy, angst-ridden yet beautiful couple of songs. The two vocals swirl around each other, with harmonies drifting in and out. It was hard to catch the lyrics and I wouldn’t like to guess what these were about, but the atmosphere is definitely one of something fairly dark and sometimes intense, yet sometimes gentle and serene. I was momentarily transported to a different world.

Calum Carlyle kicks things off with a bit of a comedy number, for whose existence we can be thankful to the one and only Nyk Stoddart. Nyk provided the title of this song, and Calum defied belief by creating the song, named “my penis is a gyroscope”. Apparently you can get to heaven even if you have a you-know-what – a bit of a revelation for the women in the audience perhaps (kidding). I learned quite a lot during this song, I have to say, I didn’t know a you-know-what had so many uses. The song’s only 28 hours old and he didn’t even forget it! In fact he played with his usual confidence and top quality guitar playing. Second song “The Acid Test” has crazy rock-n-roll strumming and you can hear the drum-kit in his mind. ‘I looked inside your mind, to see what I could find…’ he yells. I’m not sure what he finds, but this is ROCK. Man. Finally the epic “the sound of falling in love at first sight” is a beautiful heart-felt song with an extended intro on the old 12-string. You can see in his face that he means every word… Great to hear this song again, even if he does quite often play it.

The Weather Underground kicks off with “when the morning comes”, a vaguely Dylan-esque vocal style, and perhaps a nod to the man lyrically (‘gotta find a place to shelter form the storm’). I couldn’t quite follow the lyrics but they drew you in – they are intriguing and often random-sounding, with references to Venus and Mars . . . The second song has a nice wee chord riff with stream of lyrics over the top in story-telling style. It seems to be telling someone to go and get “that thing called life”, which could be a lesson to us all. He fits a lot off words into a short song, I’d like to read them all written out to find out what’s going on in these stories! Finally “I think I” … ”might be losing part of my soul” – oh my god, I hope he managed not to lose it. The vocal has hints of Lou Reed here and there. He’s cooool.

Broken Tooth starts with a song he’s been writing on stage rather than with pen & paper, over the last few weeks whilst performing in various places. That’s something you have to be pretty confident to try! But you could never tell this song may not have been fully formed. It has a punchy and confident METAL riff!!! Pretty catch wee riff with stop-starty bits and BT’s crazy lungs yelling out “was not the devil…?” Everyone’s twitching in their seats – you can’t sit still to a song like this, makes you want to be head banging or something. Next song is “Hold Fast Boy”, fast becoming a Tooth favourite, with its epic meandering tale about a ship not sinking yet, and Abraham and Lord Nelson and all sorts of characters popping in. It has a guitar whizzy intro and extended outro and shows off the Tooth’s incredible fret-board whizzery.

Ross Neilson plays a rather nice looking Guild guitar, and sings songs which seem to seek better times & escape from the mundane realities of life… ‘going to a place where I feel I can breathe again’. Quite repetitive and strangely catchy melodies. He’s vaguely reminiscent of Elvis Costello in his second song, where he exclaims ‘you think I’m selfish, but I just want to do it alone’… and it has a ‘lee dee dee’ instrumental singy bit. Never heard such a thing and it induces interest from the audience. It works! People should use random variants of ‘la la laa’ more often! His last song. “sunbled”, continues in a similar vein to the others, and has some hint of Wreckless Eric, I am told. Ross Neilson is definitely becoming a more and more assured performer and his songs are getting more addictive with time.

Jenny was a performer I had never seen before but I certainly hope I will see again. The first thing that got me was the soft and under-stated quality of her vocal, which reminded me a little of Dido. It envelops you in a warm blanket of calmness. Or something. There’s a nice groove to her songs in the rhythm of the strumming. I liked the line ‘she never told the truth but she never lied… she must have been a rebel’. The melodies stick in your mind – I am humming it as I type! ‘Time & Tide’, the second number, has a similar tone to it. Jenny explains it’s about how, no matter how hard the wind blows, the mountain will never bow down to it. Nice metaphor and the song has imagery which transports me to some kind of sea shore with lapping waves on the shore. The last song takes on a flight with dabbled light on our faces. Again, imagery that transport you out of the city and into the air. She sings in her luscious voice about “tingles down [her] spine” during the flight. This song, and her voice, send tingles down my spine!

Kevin O’Neil appears to be a man with a few things to get off his chest. He plays a beautiful looking semi-acoustic orangey red coloured guitar, which survived an earlier incident during Nicky’s set in which it crashed to the floor. Phew thank god it survived! “After the fall of man…” he exclaims “…what is wrong and what is right?”. There’s some big life-changing ‘future of human-kind’ type questions in here. The songs do not reach epic proportions but the lyrical content certainly does. After that cheery stuff he plays a ‘non-autobiographical miserable song’, in which the narrator goes to the bar, and er, gets a drink. Kevin stands stock-still for his whole set. I don’t know if this is nerves, or just the fact you can’t see a damned thing when you’re glaring into the lights on that stage. Either way, he seemed to be starting to relax towards the end, so let’s hope this continues.

Casey Graham is our final performer of the evening, and what a good way to end… he is an assured & quality performer who is new to OOTB, but we certainly hope he’ll be back soon! Another from across the pond, he has only recently come to Edinburgh, and begins with a song he apparently wrote 2 years ago but had absolutely no memory of writing it whatsoever until he came across it that morning. Well we’re glad you found it! Immediately kicks in with some of my favourite picky guitar playing and descending bass-line, hinting at the folk-tradition but definitely with its own thing going on. It’s about the ‘last troubadour on the street’, and there’s a part of him in all of us. Though not a topical singer, he gives us a comedy rendition of “the ballad of sarah palin” who will ‘fight for the right… until all the ice caps melt’. Couldn’t be a better time to sing this song, it’s all over the news, and as Casey rightly points out, he only has a few months in which to sing it! A very insightful and amusing, yet political song. Finally we go back to a theme of tonight: Dreams. In “Dream song” he ‘caught a glimpse of the sacred melody’… again reminiscent of 60s protest singing in style & lyrics with ‘I heard a story of youth revolt and fighting to be free’. This was a brilliant end to a brilliant evening. I hope he comes back.

Review: Lindsay Sugden Compere/sound: Rob Sproul-Cran

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OOTB 315 – 25 Sep 2008

Posted 25/09/2008 By admin

OOTB 315 25/09/08

Calum Carlisle, Mick & Jeff, Tica Douglas, Broken Tooth, Hughes & McQuade, Pan Am, Craig Hood, John Fink, Nyk Stoddart

Calum Carlisle
Calum sports his new baby; a lovely 12(oops 11)-string guitar. His set tonight shows Calum at his most chameleon-like. ‘Piper on Princes St’ is a nationalist song along the lines of Flower of Scotland. (I would argue that Scotland IS a nation although sadly it may not currently be a nation-state. Discuss)
This is followed with no transition by ‘Superglue’ which I rather liked. It is in Placebo territory for the most part with an unnerving chromatic section which is more like Nirvana. And if this wasn’t enough of a change his third is the perennial favourite ‘The Sound of Falling In Love at First Sight’. This is more a mellifluous indulgence in guitar sonority than anything else, but on a 12-string all those rich chords are even more so. Drop-D loveliness.

Mick & Jeff
If you haven’t seen them for a while, Jeff & Mick are just back from Peru and Portobello respectively. M&J apparently have an average age of 70, and if you imagine what they must have listened to as teenagers it will give you a fair indication of their style; blues/boogie/skiffle with Everley Brothers style harmonies. It may not be cutting edge but it has with plenty of entertainment value, and I for one would be well chuffed to sound this good at their age, and obviously still enjoying it “ and we did too.

Tica Douglas (debut)
Tica has just arrived from Portland, Maine. I’ll admit it’s going to take me a few listens as its soo different to anything else around, but a warm welcome to a very distinctive performer. Yep, so she’s younger than a lot of us and has therefore been exposed to very different music – its acoustic and it ain’t R&B, but it is certainly Hip Hop ‘aware’. Imagine a big saggy kick sample behind everything and you won’t be far wrong. She has a conversational style with considerable charm and wit. This music was the topic of much of the evening’s discussion during the breaks.

Broken Tooth

Broken Tooth 18 Dec 2003

Broken Tooth 18 Dec 2003

It is another confident and competent performance from BT, but not on a par with a few weeks ago when I was doing sound and he looked really pissed off at me (probably something to do with my last review) and put all that energy and anger into his performance. So I guess my aim with this review has to be to get him sufficiently riled to put in a better show next time. Here goes.
The blues is (musically speaking) all cliche. Not a good or a bad thing, that’s just what it is. It’s what happens within that framework that counts. Do you have to be black to sing the blues? No, but it probably helps. The power of the blues is in the performance, and is magical when the emotions are and upsurge from a deep personal well of oppression. I just don’t feel this from Jim tonight – sure I bet he does have an impressive knowledge of this genre, I’ve never agued against that, but when you use clichés without that level of passion it always feels like a cover version: competent, but not exciting and not personal. Are you mad yet?

Oh, by the way, ‘what’s a boy supposed to do’ is the best of the set. It’s a 1920s/30s pastiche along the lines of Queen’s ‘Good ole-fashioned lover boy’. It needs a few chord corrections to make the harmony believable, but it made a refreshing change from the blues.

Hughes & McQuade
I’ve only seen this paring with acoustic guitars before, so it’s a nice change to add a bass. Anyone who can play fretless has my admiration, and always seems to attract looks of admiration and hate in equal measures from the audience who can’t imagine life without frets. Too talented by half. This is uplifting sing-along music along the lines of Del Amitri. The problem with performing sing-along music in a pub is that sometimes drunks start singing along. And that was the case tonight as a rather pickled local periodically interrupted the proceedings. Hope you weren’t too put off. His voice has that Travis-like quality of getting better as it goes up. Lovely songs: ‘Walk on’ had everyone reaching for their lighters.

Pan Am (Debut)
A warm welcome to Pan Am on their first performance at OOTB. The songs had an in-yer-face swagger and stomp much like an acoustic Arctic Monkeys. I’d like to see their performance grow to match their material – they seemed a little nervous tonight (we’re really not that scary people) – best keep coming or drink more beer in future. After a few weeks it’ll seem like child’s play. This is the whole point of OOTB giving new performers a platform and dragging fresh material out of hiding. So please keep it up.

Craig Hood
It has been a long time since Craig last played here – too bad, its interesting material you have. Again, playing in public will really help your nerves and help you to perform. 3 interesting songs: ‘Swing’ had an ostinato pattern over pedal notes – it was a little cookie or perhaps psychedelic, ‘Travel House’ had nice classical harmony – this time it was very like Bach. His last song also had nice harmony, this one a more fragile song. Great set overall.

John Fink
John apologises for his finger-picking and has a couple of false starts and I’m wondering if he is too nervous to play, when he reverts to his strumming songs and plays a blinder. His third song ‘You stand to loose’ is the best of the set, I was wondering if it was a Nickleback cover, whilst Calum thought it was Incubus – but no it was a Fink original. John has possibly the best voice of the night; if all his songs are of this quality I’m sure he’ll be due a main slot soon.

Nyk Stoddart
Well it wouldn’t be a OOTB night without Nyk’s presence – he starts by instructing us to ‘listen to my new direction’ and playing some random notes – we all fall for it, be fore he says ‘only joking’ and tears into some favourites. A good way of identifying the OOTB debutantes in the room is by observing their reaction to ‘Gimp Boy’ as they try to ascertain whether Nyk is mad or a genius. Of course, we all look on with nods and knowing glances.

Compere: Jim Whyte, Review: Daniel Davis, Sound: David O’Hara

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OOTB 314 – 18 Sep 2008

Posted 18/09/2008 By admin

OOTB 20080918

Calum Carlisle, Mick & Jeff, Tica Douglas, Broken Tooth, Hughes & McQuade,
Pan Am, Craig Hood, John Fink, Nyk Stoddart

Calum Carlisle
Calum sports his new baby; a lovely 12(oops 11)-string guitar. His set
tonight shows Calum at his most chameleon-like. ‘Piper on Princes St’ is a
nationalist song along the lines of Flower of Scotland. (I would argue
that Scotland IS a nation although sadly it may not currently be a
nation-state. Discuss)
This is followed with no transition by ‘Superglue’ which I rather liked.
It is in Placebo territory for the most part with an unnerving chromatic
section which is more like Nirvana. And if this wasn’t enough of a change
his third is the perennial favourite ‘The Sound of Falling In Love at
First Sight’. This is more a mellifluous indulgence in guitar sonority
than anything else, but on a 12-string all those rich chords are even more
so. Drop-D loveliness.

Mick & Jeff
If you haven’t seen them for a while, Jeff & Mick are just back from Peru
and Portobello respectively. M&J had an average age of 15 in 1953, and if
you imagine what they must have listened to as teenagers it will give you
a fair indication of their style; blues/boogie/skiffle with Everley
Brothers style harmonies. It may not be cutting edge but it has with
plenty of entertainment value, and I for one would be well chuffed to
sound this good at their age, and obviously still enjoying it – and we did
too.

Tica Douglas (debut)
Tica has just arrived from Portland, Maine. I’ll admit it’s going to take
me a few listens as its soo different to anything else around, but a warm
welcome to a very distinctive performer. Yep, so she’s younger than a lot
of us and has therefore been exposed to very different music – its
acoustic and it ain’t R&B, but it is certainly Hip Hop ‘aware’. Imagine a
big saggy kick sample behind everything and you won’t be far wrong. She
has a conversational style with considerable charm and wit. This music was
the topic of much of the evening’s discussion during the breaks.

Broken Tooth
It is another confident and competent performance from BT, but not on a
par with a few weeks ago when I was doing sound and he looked really
pissed off at me (probably something to do with my last review) and put
all that energy and anger into his performance. So I guess my aim with
this review has to be to get him sufficiently riled to put in a better
show next time. Here goes.
The blues is (musically speaking) all cliché. Not a good or a bad thing,
that’s just what it is. It’s what happens within that framework that
counts. Do you have to be black to sing the blues? No, but it probably
helps. The power of the blues is in the performance, and is magical when
the emotions are and upsurge from a deep personal well of oppression. I
just don’t feel this from Jim tonight – sure I bet he does have an
impressive knowledge of this genre, I’ve never agued against that, but
when you use clichés without that level of passion it always feels like a
cover version: competent, but not exciting and not personal. Are you mad
yet?

Oh, by the way, ‘what’s a boy supposed to do’ is the best of the set. It’s
a 1920s/30s pastiche along the lines of Queen’s ‘Good ole-fashioned lover
boy’. It needs a few chord corrections to make the harmony believable, but
it made a refreshing change from the blues.

Hughes & McQuade
I’ve only seen this paring with acoustic guitars before, so it’s a nice
change to add a bass. Anyone who can play fretless has my admiration, and
always seems to attract looks of admiration and hate in equal measures
from the audience who can’t imagine life without frets. Too talented by
half. This is uplifting sing-along music along the lines of Del Amitri.
The problem with performing sing-along music in a pub is that sometimes
drunks start singing along. And that was the case tonight as a rather
pickled local periodically interrupted the proceedings. Hope you weren’t
too put off. His voice has that Travis-like quality of getting better as
it goes up. Lovely songs: ‘Walk on’ had everyone reaching for their
lighters.

Pan Am (Debut)
A warm welcome to Pan Am on their first performance at OOTB. The songs had
an in-yer-face swagger and stomp much like an acoustic Arctic Monkeys. I’d
like to see their performance grow to match their material – they seemed a
little nervous tonight (we’re really not that scary people) – best keep
coming or drink more beer in future. After a few weeks it’ll seem like
child’s play. This is the whole point of OOTB giving new performers a
platform and dragging fresh material out of hiding. So please keep it up.

Craig Hood
It has been a long time since Craig last played here – too bad, its
interesting material you have. Again, playing in public will really help
your nerves and help you to perform. 3 interesting songs: ‘Swing’ had an
ostinato pattern over pedal notes – it was a little cookie or perhaps
psychedelic, ‘Travel House’ had nice classical harmony – this time it was
very like Bach. His last song also had nice harmony, this one a more
fragile song. Great set overall.

John Fink
John apologises for his finger-picking and has a couple of false starts
and I’m wondering if he is too nervous to play, when he reverts to his
strumming songs and plays a blinder. His third song ‘You stand to loose’
is the best of the set, I was wondering if it was a Nickleback cover,
whilst Calum thought it was Incubus – but no it was a Fink original. John
has possibly the best voice of the night; if all his songs are of this
quality I’m sure he’ll be due a main slot soon.

Nyk Stoddart
Well it wouldn’t be a OOTB night without Nyk’s presence – he starts by
instructing us to ‘listen to my new direction’ and playing some random
notes – we all fall for it, be fore he says ‘only joking’ and tears into
some favourites. A good way of identifying the OOTB debutantes in the room
is by observing their reaction to ‘Gimp Boy’ as they try to ascertain
whether Nyk is mad or a genius. Of course, we all look on with nods and
knowing glances.

Compere: Jim Whyte, Review: Daniel Davis, Sound: David O’Hara

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OOTB 313 – 11 Sep 2008

Posted 11/09/2008 By admin

Well, playing a little bit of catch-up here. There’s so many people
signing up to the mailing list, you see, it’s taken us two weeks just to
type their email addresses!

Anyway, enjoy Johnny Pugh’s review:

OOTB No 313

Jim White, Francis Hayes, Sophie, Ross Nielson, Bill, Ben Young, Yogi, Calum Carlyle, Alan, Kevin O’ Neil, Rob Sproul-Cran, Nyk Stoddart, Pip Robinson

Jim White Our compere kicks off the night, with ‘I Found Love’. The rhythmic strumming, and ‘ba-ba-ba-ba’s in the chorus lend the song a happy-go-lucky feel, a motif which serves to highlight the change in mood of the lyrics as the song progresses. Having ‘lived on chocolate and red wine’ previously (oh the decadence), the song finishes with a break-up, as Jim sings ‘I set my love free’. A poignant start to the night. Also, massive respect has to be given to Jim as he manages to fit the word ‘polystyrene’ into a song.

Francis Hayes Francis begins with ‘All about You’, a song about following dreams and the consequences that it can bring. Triumphant strumming is coupled with the power of Francis controlled vocal, questioning ‘Are we so blind?’. Its an honest song, tinged with frustration, but also hope, as Francis surmises ‘Its all to do with fear’. Following this, we are treated to the recently penned ‘Skinless Wonders’, which explores the way in which different people can have such contrasting experiences of life. The structured verses each give a different perspective, over anguished minor chords. This one seems slightly pessimistic, particularly with the memorable line ‘I lose so much each time I try to give a little more’. I believe Francis’ final song was called ‘Mocking Time’. Here the strength of the vocal gives the song a prophetic air, slandering those ‘waiting for salvation’, both in the lower and higher ranges. Really enjoyed this last one, again some great lyrics, ( Is it hatred if its you that turns the knife). Another, varied and thought provoking set from this versatile songwriter.

Sophie In what must have been one of the most confident and memorable debuts at OOTB, the audience were treated to some wonderfully unique song writing and skilled musicianship, with Sophie. ‘Over the pavement’ is an observational piece, with the gently picked nylon string guitar evoking a ‘lullaby-esque’ feel to the repeated words at various points in the song. What is more there is a whistling interlude…marvelous. This sounds like one of those kooky acoustic songs that adverts seem to use at the moment. ‘Facing Your Demons’ allows Sophie to showcase her vocal dexterity, using her voice almost like a classical instrument. The lyrics are enticing and poetic, putting me in mind of a female and happy version of Leonard Cohen. Not sure he would have put ‘snickety-snack’ in his lyrics, but mores the pity for Leonard Cohen. Another really enjoyable piece. Didn’t catch the name of her last, but it was my favourite of the set. Here, the song writing was really natural , as she sings of insensibly rejecting love: ‘if there were any sense in my heart, I would feel for you as you feel for me’. Again the sharp stabbing vocal sounds like an instrument line. A really enjoyable set which had the audience hanging on every note. What’s more she has only been writing songs for a year, so we can expect even more from this talented and unique artist. Hopefully we will get to hear the fruits of this at OOTB again soon.

Ross Nielson starts with the angry ‘If I can find my change of heart’, a particular favourite of mine from his repertoire. The lyrics explore inner demons taking control, (‘have you ever felt the darkness slip inside your soul?’), and the pain that the snarling vocal expresses sounds completely genuine. His second was ‘Playing Games’, which is about the mind games which love can engage people in, especially when it is unrequited. First Ross maintains that ‘Nobody knows her quite like me’, before denouncing ‘Yeah she burns tonight’. The occasional spoken words have real attitude and add variety to the acoustic rock sound. His last has a different, modal feel given the Fmajor – Dmajor chord progression, which underpins the sustained vocal. Again the lyrics are angry, but in this case slightly more general; ‘With the smell of success you shot your God’, is a disturbing line delivered wonderfully by Ross’ gritty vocal. Ross has a CD coming out soon I believe, so watch this space!

Bill Bill takes to stage to treat us to some performance poetry. His first is a thought provoking exploration of the subjective nature of time and its restrictions. These philosophical meanderings were paired with some rendering descriptions of the problems time can bring, or not heal, which give the piece a great deal of pathos. His second I can only guess is called ‘intermission’, and includes some good old fashioned audience participation. This poem discusses the trials and tribulations of being a performance poet on a music scene, and there is an anger when Bill claims that the real performances are actually occurring in the conversations during the intermission. Bill’s poetry is rooted in real life, and is relatable yet challenging.

Ben Young The good news…tonight is Ben’s CD launch! (cue loud cheers). The absolutely devastating news… This is Ben’s final OOTB before he leaves us all for Turkey, (cue moans of despair, and outrage…a few people faint). Unfortunately, tonight will be the last time we get to hear Ben play the Canon’s Gait for a long, long time. Good thing that he treated us to a magical featured slot tonight, as well as free CDs by way of a farewell. In order to establish where he lies in the guitarist pecking order, Ben’s first song exhibits some mind boggling guitar work, including finger picking bended strings and some great inter – chord licks. The lyrics demand that ‘I must eat before I go’…an admirable sentiment. Next we hear ‘Drown’ following some horrendous drunken heckling, which Ben seems particularly adept at dispatching with aplomb. Anyway, returning far more importantly to the music: the song begins with one of those wonderful blues licks that would make anyone want to pick up a guitar and start playing blues, before reverting to some syncopated finger picking to provide a basis for the vocal. Ben’s lyrics tell a story, as he is told ‘that you can’t fix what you’ve done with more words’, while he asks ‘hold me down…until I drown’. ‘Bottle Bottom Specs’ has an almost Kinks like quality to some of the lyrics, with its witty observances: ‘I never change my mind as well you know’ captures the tension that can occur between couples in a whimsical but heartfelt manner. This attitude in fact sums up the song nicely. Again the guitar is complex, but not to the extent that it focuses the listener’s attention away from the excellent lyrics. ‘Leicester Forest East’ is a song about the eponymous service station. This song I think can be taken at face value, in that Ben’s musicianship makes even the banal wonderfully entertaining. On the other hand the lyrics are ambiguous, and could be taken as metaphorical (he writes novels don’t you know). ‘I should have done this so long ago/ What does it say about me?’, could be about leaving any place or even relationships. What really impresses about Ben’s music here is its adventurous nature. While many proficient guitarists are content to play the basics as quickly as possible, Ben’s chord voicing and progressions are both original and engaging. Quality stuff. Next up is ‘Battle of the Bands’, one of my favourites. The guitar work is dark, mirroring the bitter resentment of the lyrics. Again the narrative lyrics are peppered with other ideas and challenging observations: ‘And now a girl band sings of sisterhood/ as her sisters turn away’. Like Dylan, Ben is skilled at creating pictures of his story in the listeners mind. The chorus slams the bands who sing ‘with nothing to say’. ‘Lost in Englandland’ is a nostalgic tale about the place ‘where we first fell in love’ where Ben sings high at the top of his voice. It seems to be a happy memory, tinged with a sadness that those days have passed. The music is almost jig-like, using quick runs between the chords, and octaves which make the guitar sound almost like a 12 string. Ben’s last is a fantastic, sophisticated blues number lamenting that ‘My Baby don’t like my Music’. Clearly his baby is either an idiot or deaf. Again, this gives Ben license to roam freely on the fretboard. A really polished set, and as one member of the audience stated, ‘Wherever he’s going, it’s our loss, and somewhere else’s gain’. Thanks a lot Ben, and the best of luck with whatever you end up doing.

Yogi Next we have Yogi giving a quick squashee slot, with ‘Can’t go on this way’. The quick changing palm muted chords sound urgent and foreboding, as Yogi sings ‘I can’t believe that I didn’t see it’. This is song of desperation and a convincing performance is given, the words seemingly wrenched from within.

Calum Carlyle Tonight Calum plays us a song from all the way back in 1993, called ‘Computer’, a poignant assessment of societal placement. ‘I want to kill myself, I don’t want to play computer anymore’, grieves Calum, over his trademark intricate guitar work. The song is moving, and troubled, describing the frustration of trying to find a ‘shoe’ that fits you in society, (in a purely metaphorical sense). If we thought 1993 was a while back, Calum now takes us back to a few hundred or so years BC, singing a Torah inspired song in Hebrew…as you do. The minor key chord progression gives an Arabic feel to the song which I can only guess is probably well suited to the lyrics. Whatever the case, Calum adapts his voice to this style of music well. I think his next challenge should be a little number adapted from the Qur’an…just an idea. Back to the 90’s next with ‘Don’t Go Away’. This one is slower, with gently strummed chords, which echo the sentiments of Calum’s belief in the song that he is ‘safe here’, and ‘I want to tell you everything’. This is a million miles away from his first song, and this set has shown great versatility.

Alan Alan begins with a song called ‘A million miles’. However, instead of being a love song, as I expected, Alan bitterly proclaims that the titular distance ‘isn’t far enough away’. It is an astringent song of resentment without remorse, and was all the more refreshing for it. From this, we then hear a song at the other end of the emotional spectrum, as Alan plays us a song written about a friend who passed away called ‘Stay as you Are’. Really heart rendering stuff of raw emotion, as Alan imploringly asks ‘will you pick me up tonight?’, and states ‘I’ll stand with you tonight’. Tear jerking material, especially with a performance as personal, and powerful as this. To finish we are treated to the best song written ever, (according to one of Alan’s friends) ‘Walking in Circles’. This has a commercial feel, with Alan singing ‘How many times have we been here?’, and describing the way in which people fall into the same traps over and over again, sometimes against their will. There is defiance towards the end however, in the line ‘I will not fall into your arms anymore’, the words counteracted by his delicate falsetto. A roller coaster through the emotions tonight from Alan, and a thoroughly enjoyable one at that.

Kevin O’ Neil Following Laura’s dramatic win in the raffle (did she win the personal radio, or was this some light handed cheating to avoid winning the binoculars? The investigation continues…) Kevin takes to the stage. Didn’t hear the name of his first, but it had a quirky minor feel to it, which mirrored the philosophical lyrics (‘a mirror inverted absorbing the soul’). The philosophical theme continues into his monism influenced second ‘What is Everything?’. This is a darker, inquisitive number, again with some poetic lyrics over some intelligent chording. Inspired by Bill earlier, Kevin delicately sings that ‘all time is the same’. As one member of the crowd so eloquently stated it was ‘totally great’. To finish, we hear ‘Looking Back’, which sees Kevin depart into more familiar singer/songwriter territory, which he handles equally well. ‘I know this is as good as it will be’ he sings, as the song descends into a sense of powerlessness, and regret. The first time I have seen Kevin play, and on the basis of tonight’s evidence, I certainly hope it will not be the last.

Rob Sproul-Cran The evening is brought to a close by three squashee slots, beginning with Mr Sproul-Cran. Tonight he plays a recently written one, which in spite of hearing a couple of times now, I have no idea of its title. Whatever the name, it is a dark, funereal song of apathy, as Rob whispers over the deep chords ‘Her tears confuse me, I forget she thought she knew me’, and the chorus line ‘Trust in me she should never have done’. The lightly strummed power chords offer a scant backing, allowing Rob to really whisper the words, and create an atmosphere of soullessness, as he continues to purge his conscience throughout the song. Nice one.

Nyk Stoddart Nyk plays an old favourite tonight with ‘Mutant Zombies from planet X’. Not only is this a great crowd pleasing song, but a really enigmatic performance, as Nyk playfully chuckles, or adjusts his specs in the brief silences between lines. The chorus has the bar shaking, with the audience joining in the (all together now) ‘na na na na na na na!!’. Pure psychedelic Stoddart gold, and another great performance. I believe he too has a new CD out and about, so again, watch this space.

Pip Robinson Tonight, there seems to have been real versatility in the performances, and what better way to finish this evening by moving from the tub thumping singalong of Nyk, to a beautifully delicate song from Pip. The fingerpicked arpeggios replicate the subject matter (time) cleverly, and she conveys a sense of inevitability masterfully with lines such as ‘Couldn’t stop it then, and I can’t stop it now’, and ‘She strikes again on everyone and everything’. Amidst this, the song also reflects on loss and missed chances (‘Would we do it all again?’). A great end to a really enjoyable evening from one of my favourite voices at OOTB recently.

Compere: Jim White, Review Jonny Pugh

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OOTB 312 – 4 Sep 2008

Posted 04/09/2008 By admin

In the mean time, last week saw our long-awaited return. Here’s how that shit went down.

OOTB312

Calum Carlyle, Fraser, Machar Granite, Broken Tooth, Two Carved Stones (Featured Act), Nyk Stoddart, Ben Young, Colin Milne, John, Chris.

Calum Carlyle ‘Living Proof’ is a genius ode to those smelly, hairy people…yes, the hippies. Calum is in danger of becoming a comedy performer, but on this evidence, that may not be so bad. ‘Superglue’, talking of the inseparability of those in love, is more metaphor than Farrelly brother’s silliness. Thank goodness. He backs it up with some heavy riffing. He ends with perennial favourite, ‘The sound of falling in love at first sight’, which I’ve decided to call ‘The Sofilafs,’ in moment of over-excited acronymisation. The song is good, too. There’s a string orchestra in my head.

Fraser He lets us know after his first that it was meant to be uplifting, and I’m glad he did – I thought lines like ‘I keep on walking towards the light’ were about near death experiences. He then brings out the Parisian hobo in all of us with a take on life on the streets that is fiercely finger-clickingly funky. ‘It don’t mean a thing without a dog on a string.’ He ends with a humourous but compassionate look at inner city depravation. It is harsh enough to make ‘Shameless’ look like ‘Dallas’ – ‘battery acid smeared on a tricycle.’

Machar Granite I never tire of Eddie’s stuff. Although the lyrics could be about anywhere, they feel unmistakably rooted in rural Scotland, and are all the better for it. This is in small part down to him singing in his own accent, but more than that, melody and performance build a mood which transports the listener. On ‘Cost them dear’, he sings ‘The kids standing at the monument have no idea.’ His second is supposedly an electronica track in the making. The fact that his acoustic arrangement is already something most of us would be delighted with is testament to the quality of the writing. His last, saying there’s ‘something lurking under the water’, is minor, moody, and menacing. I think it’s about the oil industry.

Broken Tooth ‘For too long I’ve been chasing my tail.’ Maybe he means ‘tale’, because Tooth’s lyrics veer between Nietzsche and Nashville. This one, though, is actually a fairly conventional ballad, with a good deal less philosophy or yelping. I think it benefits. ‘Mojo Ham’, supposedly about Hoodoo, brings us back into more familiar gothic blues. But there’s always time for some heavy prog rock to finish. This is my favourite by a long shot – it just shows way more ambition and originality. ‘My head is spinning’, he whoops. He’s not the only one.

Two Carved Stones (Featured Act) Following a fine showing at the Fringe, it’s a pleasure to have these guys playing. Johnny and Chris Pugh have only recently begun writing songs together, but you wouldn’t know, mostly down to the sheer number of hours they’ve clocked up performing since. They begin, fittingly, with ‘Starting Blocks.’ Harsh lyrics being sung sweetly is effective – ‘with daggers in my eyes, and a look that could kill, I’ll be waiting for you,’ on ‘Don’t You Dare’, and ‘I’m bruising your body,’ on ‘Alias’, stand out. Difficult subjects are wrapped in music which makes them more digestible. On ‘Rubix Cube’, the harmonies rise above a rich guitar. It builds and builds, and it’s a relief, perfectly timed, when they drop the tempo for ‘Don’t Panic’. On this, they layer harmonics and harmonies until the sound is consuming. ‘On Fire’ washes over us. It’s a recollective tale of the finest times of a love lived – ‘the way you loved me then,’ and it finishes the set on a positive note. A class act – look out for more from these guys in the future.

Nyk Stoddart I’ve never seen this before. Nyk is one of our most regular acts, which has honed his performance to the point where he was the Featured Act not long ago. He is known and loved for his charismatic, haphazard and simply loud sets. But tonight, he offers an altogether more peaceful character. ‘Quell’ is serene and meditative – ‘Surrounded by trees’. It is so gentle, I almost think he’ll break into hard rawk any second. But ‘Even Now’ continues the theme, featuring quiet introspection. ‘Lamplight’ finishes the set, with chiming 60s folk country – ‘Girl got the blues down to the floor.’ Honestly, it will take some time for both Nyk and the audience to grow into this style, and his voice arguably suits the louder stuff more, but its still good to see someone attempt to expand their genre.

Ben Young Having been the most vocally encouraging member of the audience all night, the room is well aware of him before he takes to the stage. His songs, by contrast, are delicate and subdued. ‘There’s a pile-up on the motorway,’ opens ‘Leicester Forest East’, which talks of escapism, ‘I left the car and walked away.’ Whether it was there or not, I took an ambiguity between this being his imagination or actual happenings. ‘England-land’, on the other hand, clearly does paint a mythical country where he falls in love, but there is the suggestion that the girl comes second to the country in the admiration stakes. ‘Bottle-bottomed specs’ is a brutal telling of a relationship unravelling – ‘You look at me through your bottle-bottomed specs; looking for proof that I still love you.’ Its harshness has definitely had an impact on my lyrical output. Ben is Featured Act this week – don’t miss the chance to see a full set from him.

Colin Milne Colin is arguably just as harsh, but only for the sake of humour. Having only started writing upon his retiral, his lyrics play mostly on the funny side of growing old(er). As it is with ‘Separate Bedroom Blues’ – ‘What I saw is what I used to know’. ‘Klesterol’ (yes, he spells it like that) takes on the impact of bad diet on a relationship – ‘as back tae yer wumman ye crawl!’ This is another performer who has benefited hugely from more performances. Audiences are now enthralled and appalled in equal measure – he looks a far nicer chap than his lyrics belie. ‘Old Bugga’ is a fine example. ‘Maybe when I’m dead, I’ll be glad.’

John It’s just as well that John chooses to write stuff that uses his voice properly, because he’s got impressive range and power. He soars on lines like ‘If it makes it better, I’ll turn my head and walk away.’ His style hits hard American rock, and his lyrics are generally on the dark side – ‘Things will turn bad outside’ – so its surprising that this, his second song, is fairly uplifting. His third, however, is full of menace – ‘Get out, run now.’ And his opening line is a cracker – ‘Come in, leave your soul at the door.’

Chris Almost a debut, but he’s played a wee while ago, Chris spends the first five minutes assembling an array, the like of which I’ve never seen. We’ll wait for the third song before all is revealed. He sings in a Scottish accent, and evokes memories like sepia film – ‘scrape my knees and tear my clothes.’ He changes time elegantly, into what I think is a new song, but turns out to be a lengthy coda. In fact, each of his songs evolve similarly, and it’s debatable whether such formats suit a short set, but in themselves, they are no doubt enthralling. Best lyric on his second: ‘There’s nothing worse than losing touch, when it works as well as us.’ His final song is all bells (as that’s what the apparatus turns out to be) and whistles. ‘You’re knitting a scarf,’ he sings. It’s about knitting a scarf, I think. We want more.

Sound: Dave O’Hara, Review+Compere: Rob Sproul-Cran

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OOTB 310 – 17 July 2008

Posted 17/07/2008 By admin

For now, last week’s review. Rob himself pens the first three acts, before
handing over to the anarchic Nyk Stoddart. Enjoy.
OOTB 310 – 17 July 2008
—————————
Gordon Imrie, Cate McDonald, Broken Tooth, Chris Mossop, Ray Kenny, Ben Young, Calum Carlyle, Tim Holehouse, Robbie Sprout-Cranberry, Johnny & Chris (Two Carved Stones)

Rob pens the first three acts, before handing over to the anarchic Nyk Stoddart. Enjoy.

Gordon Imrie Brings with him the comedy heckler of the night, but more on that later… ‘Homesick’ was written half here, half in Oz, and benefits from seeing it from both sides. Lovely observations of the little things that change, or don’t, from travelling, My brother will be 10inches taller, and he’ll tell me he could have me, and I’ll tell him not to bother  . On his second, ‘Broken Bones’, the jaunty tune clashes (effectively, I think) with the harsh subject matter of a dying relative, and I ask you, are you scared? You say you’re terrified.   His last, ‘Cheerio’, tells of a break-up in progress, Will you miss our pantomime?   It’s told with satisfying bile. This is the best set I’ve seen from him, great stuff.

Cate McDonald

Ethereal ‘oohs’ (from Cate, that is) beckon in her first, ‘One foot in my grave’. Taking a familiar premise, of wasting our own time and potential, and raising it with good lyrics: Got my teeth sunk into the hand that feeds me.   Cate still seems panicked on stage, but more visits should sort that. ‘Return to exile’ is about returning to a home country that doesn’t feel very homely anymore. More of a lament than objection, it’s come creeping. It’s just a shame that it did.   It’s OK, though, she’s back now. ‘Djembe Man’ is billed as a Dylan tribute (d’you get it?), but I doubt Dylan came up with such fine chords. Good stuff.

Broken Tooth I though this first one was called ‘Who da man?’ Turns out it’s called ‘Hoodoo Man’, but I’m not sure which I prefer, the first certainly suits him. Got a mean old hell hound  , he sings. Cerberus been pissing on his trousers again? (Which classics geeks got that one?) ‘Title Song’ is his best by far because he actually injects some personality. I saw him play this with weird time signatures once, and hope he does so again at some point, it really lifts the song. He can overcook the vox a bit sometimes, a bit of balance would help, but on this one, it’s good. ‘Hold Fast’ mixes the nautical, have faith in old timber  , with the Biblical, They write [their message] out with blood and sword.   Funny mix, but he’s got ambition. And now we hand you over to our outside broadcast unit. Nyk Stoddart takes up the story… The ghost of Calum Haddow stalks these corridors (well, this bar anyway) – infecting all souls wiv a reverie bordering on lunacy. Unfortunately i have become one of his victims, and now must bear the mark of the insane…it’s all his fault (apart from me own lunacy of course) A wee competition: How many random phrases can you find in this review ? The prize will be the social stigma of admitting you were looking for them…good luck!

Chris Mossop Not sure if i’ve seen him before, so apologies for not remembering. His performances was assured wiv catchy and very streamlined, focused songs. ‘Blue Moon’ ‘How can i possibly resist when i have friends like this’ he states in his song about drinking and stuff in South-West Scotland. Apparently. Ba da la la la la etc. That’s what comes of not having a backing band wiv you…one need’s to vocalise the other instruments! ‘Step by step’ Poppy and catchy with nice handmuting techniques & unusual chordings. Sounds like the music could take off if electrified (i mean by electric guitar obviously!) ‘My little protest’ Strangely this song reminds me of the Waterboys. A most tight, well-performed song.

Ray Kenny Remember Kenny Ball and his jazz band ? yeh, well i do…can’t fink of anything mair witty to say so i’ll just murmur somefink aboot the songs… ‘Life’ ‘Slowly i’m slippin…living for today…Turn back time…everything was OK…we must carry on’ states Ray…nice lyrics…memorable tune that had everyone enraptured, or somefink wiv a similar metaphor type thing. ‘Soul searching’ Seems to be about the desire for fame and the trappings thereof – with a nice central riff, with handmuting (maybe this is an indie thing, it seems to be catching on) Elephants make good skateboarding champions. ‘Star in the clouds’ The central riff seems familiar, with a hendrixy tinge. ‘Wall of sound’ About a performance that didn’t go down too well, in his opinion – although his stuff sounds good to me. Could be me old cloth ears, but i couldn’t make out his words too clearly though, which is a shame as there has obviously been a lot of love and care put into his lyrics. ‘Don’t stop clapping’ he says encouraging the audience to participate, which is what it’s all about innit ?

Ben Young I’ve been looking forward to a performance from this personage for some time, as he is one of me favourites – and for good reason…Like Calum Carlyle (who plays next) he is a seriously impressive guitarist, with a fluid playing style that complements his subtle songwriting abilities. ‘Drown’ Evocative wiv witty lyrics, modal chordings and fluid playing. Ben states: ‘I know you don’t say much when you’re having one of your days…that don’t bother me much’ – this song, like many of his, infuses jazzy stuff wiv blues (or i could say something more erudite but i won’t!) ‘Daniel Cuchamber rip-off’ Ben states that Africa is the birthplace of the blues, specifically Malawi, but strangely this song seems to be about his old headmaster (or maybe my 15th pint was starting to take effect – only joking – 12.507391th pint – metric of course!) ‘These are your halcyon days…this is a lie he’s paid to sell…’ Nice wan Benny. ‘Battle of the bands’ is one of me faves, with some truly moving/lovely chordings. A bitter rant at the futility of the cosmos – but mainly about these lame ‘Battle of the bands’ competitions where a ‘singer thinks he has a chance’ but horribly, ‘no-one will remember what you’ll play’ – especially as most acts are ‘…singing… with nothing to say’. He quips to the audience at one point ‘no recording here – it’s copyrighted’. Overall, a brilliant set from one of Edinburgh’s finest performers. Come back soon! or more often! please! etc.

Calum Carlyle Another one of my favourite performers – currently on tour with Tim Holehouse,starts wiv an instrumental entitled ‘ridiculously long introduction’ (ridiculously long title mair like!) Like Ben Young before he is a seriously impressive guitarist, with a fluid playing style that complements his subtle songwriting abilities. ‘Walking through the shallows’ taken, apparently, from the gospel of Luke in the bibble (yes, i spell it like that!) which was apparently written when he was 14. Impressive parrots. ‘Living proof’ A very funny wee song. All about hippies. ‘I’m living proof…that you can be a hippy and still look good’, which was heard in a pub apparently (didn’t know hippies went to pubs, thought it was coffee houses, and places wiv dodgy catering) ‘They might not have the answers…but at least they look good’ ’nuff said. ‘The sound of falling in love at first sight’ has always been one of me fave disco-calypso pieces, and turns into more of a comedy performance when a member of the audience answers his mobile phone during the song: Calum sings ‘When i saw you in the morning…’ (very beautifully) ‘not much mate, yourself ?’ says the bloke on his mobile as he leaves. Great comic timing. Genius.

Tim Holehouse ‘Vessels that sail in the night’ has mellowed arpeggios ‘as the waves crashed down’, which has a nice melodic lifting thingy –  wiv slurry, but evocative vocals. ‘Wild horses’ – not the famous Stones song but a song about youth & how it passes away and makes you feel crap after you reach your 30s etc. Strange, i felt that way when i was 90 – but that’s just me i guess! ‘Young and so free’ ‘We were like wild horses’ sings Tim. This isn’t a reference to the famous Stones song (although i suspect he probably likes it) He also sings that ‘all these days are gone’. He finishes us off by introducing some muso jokes for the audience: ‘How do you get a muso off your porch ? Pay for the pizza’. How we laughed. His last song is a paean to the great Kerouac novel ‘On the road’, oddly enough, entitled ‘On the road’ which reminds me of Leonard Cohen for some reason…without the hat, advanced years, fake frenchness & general air of misery obviously…

Robbie Sprout-Cranberry The ‘voice of an angel’ compere of the night introduces himself…it’s explainable as he’s a clone of himself, therefore there’s two of him…but only one can be concussed by hitting the back of his neck… I didn’t get the title of the first song as his voice suddenly became too soft for microphones to pick up…This set is meant to be a sampler for his feature slot next week… He sings ‘Out of sight or so you thought…i saw you cry the day he died’ and ‘You curse his name…but your embrace tells another tale’. This person, Rob, did this happen after they died? does this person embrace dead people? Please tell me it is so ! Weird. ‘One day soon’ The song starts wiv the interesting and evocative lyric ‘this is going to be a bit louder, Dave…’ which Dave? Is this a metaphor? And for what? This song has fluent jazzy playing wiv a more up-tempo mood…like all the best songs it sounds familiar, but isn’t…Rob is fantastic when he lets rip and sings louder, wiv a more soul edge..The false ending to this song also has a familiar feel… ‘F**k it, let’s do it’ states Rob before launching into his heavy-metal classic ‘The Father’, which is also a semi-poem…’Quietly he takes a scalpel…’ Then his personal heckler pipes up ‘f**king cracking night by the way…’ Rob is a superb talent, subtle of beard and of voice, his jazziness confounds those that expect the expected – AND he’s headlining 24th July…so don’t miss it…or else! Enough soundbites for your myspace now Rob ? hehehe…

Johnny & Chris There’s two of them… ‘Bigger things’ written on the night of their last performance (maybe i should say previous performance? last sounds so, er…fatalistic) ‘it’s the whisky in the water that makes it worth the drink’ great line. nonsensical idea. Water doesn’t get you drunk, obviously…..although it would be cheaper! ‘put a bullet in your gun & hide behind the door…so you can shoot me in the back and call it a war…’ which reminds me of James Taylor. Nice harp. In ‘Don’t you dare’ the other bloke takes up the vocals, which has a more mediative feel. ‘On fire’ has the lyrics ‘Don’t fool yourself you’re still the underdog’ – an optimistic reality-check, apparently. Calum Haddow likes stapling fings. Well, Hecklers, clones and Dalek porn aside, this was a mellow end to a varied and interesting evening at OOTB. And probably my last ever review (hurrah!) Meanwhile back in reality…the US government murders people in the middle east to get catchy news headlines & lots of oil, people starve to death in poor countries because most of us are more interested in watching ‘Big Brother’ than doing anything about it, oh and we’ve elected a load of complete tits to ruin our country, and our prime minister is an Aberdonian. [Kirkcaldy, actually, but that was probably the joke, ed] Yes! we’re THAT stupid! Goodnight, this was Nyk And now the weather…well, rain of course!

Review: Rob Sproul-Cran & Nyk Stoddart; Compere: Rob Sproul-Cran

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OOTB 309 – 10 July 2008

Posted 10/07/2008 By admin

OOTB 309 – 10 July 2008
Stephen Harrison, Pip Robinson, Calum Carlyle, Eddie and Ivor, Nyk (Featured Act), Colin, John (debut), Barney, Dave (debut), Chris Bull.

Stephen Harrison Unusually electrified for OOTB, Stephen’s songs are sparsely populated around his bass voice. After the soundman remembers what an electric guitar looks like, Stephen’s second is more latin-jazzy, but with the odd twist of being nihilistic latin jazz, Meaningless…the emptiness  , he sings. His last is enveloped with warm chords, and the lyrics concur this time, I’m not alone.

Pip Robinson It’s great to see Pip around a bit at OOTB these days, not least because her songs are difficult to get tired of, not an easy trick to pull off. She opens with ‘Corners.’ Her resting timbre is very soft and intimate, but she likes to raise the volume for effect now and again. She finishes with ‘Time’ – a tale of hindsight and loss. If only we had known   Slow mournful arpeggios build, as she turns time into a character,She strikes again.   Striking stuff. Look out for Pip doing a Featured Act slot very soon.

Calum Carlyle For such a sweet-looking boy, his onstage lothario is an unexpected, but entertaining twist, perfectly summed up by his opening line, It’s not a question of getting laid; I just can’t be bothered.   Love it. It’s a lick-driven blues, and funky as… He ends with his newest anthem, ‘Living Proof’. As a comedy song, it only works because the musicianship is very fine indeed. I’m living proof that you can be a hippie, and still look good.   Apparently a quote, it must have been said by some pretentious bastard!

Eddie and Ivor Two parts of Broken Lights, who headline on 31.07.08. These guys evoke a barren and windswept Scotland with their brooding songs peppered with personal flecks. On the first, Eddie sings it will cost them dear  , and you can hear lives falling apart behind the words. Ivor breaks up the set with an instrumental masterclass, showing he can do almost everything a guitar is capable of. Eddie rejoins and a throbbing guitar underpins the vox – We will leave them in no doubt.   They don’t. Come see them later this month.

Nyk Resplendent in a red herringbone shirt and PVC (yes, really), Nyk opens with the classic ‘Scarecrow Man’. He plays loud and fast. A backing band would turn this into heavy rock, but you feel that the sheer impact this one man can make might be diluted. As example, ‘Gimp Boy’. I think Political Correctness just cried and ran away. The panting at the end is a beautiful touch. ‘Tombstoning’ is a coruscating attack on daredevil stupidity. ‘Bad Blues’ is bad, and bluesy – Got nothing to lose  , he says, and you believe him. ‘Green Monkeys’ sees Broken Tooth join him, and give the soundman nightmares by singing through a pine cone. Not sure it would have sounded better without the feedback. ‘Another Song’ continues Nyk’s unerring ability to get the audience in on the joke. ‘Booze and Drugs’ is another deeply ironic one,I need to get my kicks before it all comes down.   We close with the stadium epic a la Fratellis of ‘Mutant Zombies’, complete with na na na na na chorus. Except its better than The Fratellis… they don’t wear PVC.

Colin The older he gets (and he’s already pretty old), the more risqué the songs, it seems. As it is with ‘Alphabet Soup’, in which an island population shag each other silly in a month by the A to Z of first names. Debauchery. It’s hard to find an X  , he observes. ‘The Farmer’s Wife’ is a tale of spousal devotion in a rural setting. His final is about the (seemingly innumerable) chances at love he has let slip over the years, you get not the one chance as it floats by.   I had thought this was a poignant tale of loss, and maybe it is, but mostly just another dirty song sung beautifully.

John (debut) Antipodean elegance. John’s got a voice that’s as round and full as an Aussie-rules football…hang on a minute… No, he can sing, and has lyrics to match– If we reach our use by date, don’t pretend just to save face.   The guitar, particularly on his second, is kept unfussy, but for a few opportune and accomplished flourishes. Things will turn bad outside,   he warns. The vox could do with a few more outings, but more practice is all that’s needed. He can yell too. His last is like funky grunge with threatening lyrics, Come with me, come now  , and This won’t hurt, don’t make a sound.

Barney The hardest thing I heard was the sound of a breaking heart   Barney does a folk-tinged country. It would be perfect stuff for driving through the night, the kind that just simmers away. ‘Parallel Universe’ is probably more metaphor than Star Trek reference, but I don’t know, Didn’t know at first that you come from a parallel universe.   His last is more contemplative, and I was moved to write the words, French Jazz  . I hope that’s not a massive insult. I see what they mean about windows to the soul.   Seriously proficient stuff.

Dave (debut) Unusually rock for OOTB, he should really be called Splintered Spleen, or something, given the ferocity of his performance. There are no half measures, as he tears into ‘Invincible’. His voice quivers with the emotion of the music. ‘Hack it’ talks of life outside the goldfish bowl, there’s no goddamn safety net.   MTV would snap this guy up. He’s got a great range, in both full voice and falsetto. ‘Question’ confirms that there’s no lack of emotional investment in his performance. As the drop-D fuzz bass in my head subsides, I think OOTB needs an acoustic metal night.

Chris Bull Love is on the way, if you believe what they say   Chris is just up for the summer, and stretching his acoustic legs away from his regular band in Manchester. He specialises in a sort of Band-esque epic country. ‘As the summer fades and dies’ typifies this. Stretches the no-covers rule, as a friend penned this, but I think he co-wrote, so we’ll let him away with it. It’s a mellow and affecting piece. Now, then people, lighters aloft.

Compere: Calum Haddow, Sound and review: Rob Sproul-Cran

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OOTB 308 – 3 July 2008

Posted 03/07/2008 By admin

Out Of The Bedroom 308 (3rd July 2008)

After the round-the-campfire quietness in the Canons’ Gait basement last week (I was there!) it was back to the familiar combination of amplification, soundman, compere and audience.

Line up: The Weather Underground, Kate McDonald, Ross Neilson, Nyk Stoddart, Calum Haddow, Calum Carlyle, Broken Tooth, Paul Hughes, Ray Kenny, Rob Sproul-Cran, Lisa Paton.

The Weather Underground, actually just one man and not a band, popped up first.  Looking like a young Kris Kristofferson, his second song (sorry, TWU – missed the first song) was about kissing 16-year-old girls.  There were some nice guitar chops in there, with his quick fingers and frantic strumming being a feature.  ‘Just Like the Rain’ was a pleasing love song with a blissful chord sequence and he poured out his heart on this one.  A good set – TWU is one to watch out for.

Kate McDonald made her debut the last time I was reviewing and she has clearly improved in that short time.  ‘Hate’ was about being an immigrant, hating where she was.  Kate sung this with her lovely, warm, smoky voice, though she rushed the song a bit through nervousness.  ‘Handsome man’ was about someone she met at an open mic night and I wondered if any of the males in the audience thought it was about them.  Stu Clark accompanied on cajon; more of him later.  ‘The Republic Affliction’ was about the troubles in Northern Ireland, which is a brave topic for a song.  Kate added a marching beat in the middle eight (lyric: ‘we hear the drums of war’) to add a touch of drama.

OOTB regular Ross Neilson started with ‘Running Faster’.  Tidy guitar playing, with some nifty picking leading to strumming (getting faster, you see).  ‘Free’ featured Ross’s hoary vocals giving full vent to the theme of bitterness and pain.  The way he sang the line ‘gotta free your mind’ reminded me of Britpop, specifically Cast in their mid-90s heyday.  Ross’s rockin’ finale was more grungy and featured an interesting descending vocal sequence.

Introduced by Jim as the uncomparable (sic) Nyk Stoddart, this unique performer played three songs new to my ears.  ‘Lamplight’, available on Nyk’s MySpace page, was subtle, quiet and mellow – not normally three adjectives you’d include on a Nyk review.  This had an epic feel with a touch of early 70s folk/pop.  ‘Even Now’ confounded expectations even more as it was close to being a love song.  I loved the discordant first chord, Nyk.  The topical ‘Gimp Boy’ focussed on a recent news story about a woman who married the Berlin Wall.  This was a lighthearted tale with a bit of simulated heavy breathing thrown in to end an invigorating set from the Mutant Lodge man.

Calum Haddow 18 October 2005

Calum Haddow 18 October 2005

_No break tonight, so straight into the maelstrom of tonight’s featured act, the mighty Calum Haddow.  Big Jim introduced Calum as ‘utterly mad but strangely beguiling’ which sums Mr. Haddow up pretty well actually. ‘Slow It Down’, featured mouth-ed brass section and rhythm section played on his guitar.  The striped Adam Ant face paint was… interesting… the phrase ‘ridicule is nothing to be scared of’ sprung to mind.  Calum’s only song this year ‘Bug’ was a 100% committed performance with the screamed line ‘I will not stand for this filth’ and a primal, animalistic middle eight thrown in.  Talking of animals, the mellow and thoughtful ‘Death To The Animals’ was dedicated to ‘anyone who enjoys melodrama’ but not necessarily vegetarians.  ‘Tetsuo’ featured classical guitar and veered towards the prog (dangerously?) and was invigorating, quirky and very dark.  ‘A Simple Plan’ featured some seriously good riffing and continued the dark, twisted lyricism.  Calum then threw me completely off guard by playing a quiet, heart-on-sleeve number featuring the line ‘all I want is for you to stop crying’.  The finale was Calum’s greatest hit – the Acoustic Idol runner up ‘First Aid’ and Calum got some of the crowd singing along to the refrain ‘no one gets left on my watch / not anymore’. Quite a rollercoaster of a set from the unique Mr. Haddow – it’s well worth looking up Calum’s MySpace page for the songs and to hear the unusual lyrics.

What?  Another Calum?  Yes, Calum Carlyle this time.  Calum started with his entertaining first song ‘I Am Living Proof’ which was written after a recent experience at The Listening Room.  ‘I am the living proof you can be a hippie and still look good’ was the laugh-inducing refrain sung by Calum in his soaring high baritone.  ‘Shirat HaYam’ (translation: ‘Song of the Sea’) was sung in Hebrew, which was impressive.  ‘The Sound Of Falling In Love At First Sight’ was a mellow, mainly instrumental, John Martyn-esque number which featured some POL-like guitar slapping. Thought-provoking entertainment from Calum.

The newly-bearded Broken Tooth warned the audience that he wouldn’t be ‘talking about or introducing his songs as Jim Igoe will put them in the review’.   Mr. Tooth couldn’t help himself, though – silly chap (heh, heh).  BT started with a hollerin’, rootsy 12-bar which brought us back to basics after the complexity of some of this evening’s songs.  ‘Hearts and Spades’ was an old song recently rediscovered by BT and it was played with more than a hint of soul.  A Led Zep-esque new song, ‘Title Song’, was given the heavy guitar treatment with Stu on shaker.  Watch out for Broken Tooth this Sunday at the Blue Blazer (Ed’s note: too late for this review).

Paul Hughes, of Hughes & McQuade, began with ‘I’m Standing Tall’ which showcased Paul’s strong high-end vocal.  I thought this was a professional performance but Paul apologised at the end for screwing up.  Was ‘Time Ain’t On Your Side’ an answer to The Rolling Stones ’60s classic ‘Time Is On My Side’?  I’m not sure but Paul did say this pleasant, mellow number was one of his favourites.  ‘Walk On’ was an emotional love song which ended a fine set from Paul.

Irishman Ray Kenny started with ‘I’m Not Alone’, which was true as his friends in the audience were very supportive.  The song was well-structured with a nice riff and I detected an American influence in his vocal style.  Away from the music, I thought Ray’s haircut reminded me of Paul Weller’s current barnet.  ‘Soul Searcher’ featured Cajon Stu and Lisa Paton on shaker and the overall effect was rather funky.  Ray’s finale ‘Wall Of Sound’ was about the experience of taking part in a music competition recently and this was my favourite of Ray’s this evening.

Although I’ve know Rob Sproul-Cran for a while, I think this was the first time I’d seen him play a three-song set.  With face liberally painted, ‘She Steals Away’ made me realise what I’ve been missing.  This was an amazing vocal performance, experimental and high-pitched, which fitted neatly with some top guitar-playing and Cajon Stu’s beats.  Rob’s next song was wild – apparently with 9/4 and 4/4 rhythms – soulful and very special indeed.  It reminded me of Plant/Page Unled-ed and also Jeff Buckley, both circa 1994.  Rob’s finale was ‘The Father’, a spoken word piece, quiet and mellow.  I’ll definitely be checking out Rob’s gig list in future.

In an evening dominated by the male of the species, the balance was redressed slightly with one of the very best females on the scene.  A Lisa Paton performance is always special and tonight was no different.  Lisa’s new braided locks and war paint gave her a visual intensity on stage and her first song ‘Tunnel Vision’ was also powerful with Cajon Stu underpinning the strummed mandolin.  The haunting ‘Two Stories’ was spellbinding and seemed totally natural and unforced.  The fantastic ‘Here Come The Vampires’ featured some excellent backing vocals from Stu and Lisa’s vocal performance on this song was immaculate.  A perfect way to end the evening.

Compere: Jim Whyte Sound: Daniel Davis Raffle: Bill Philip Review: James Igoe

P.S. Most of the MySpace links for these artists can be found at the Out
Of The Bedroom MySpace page – www.myspace.com/outofthebedroom.

Now, we have a small note from Jim Igoe: “In a moment of complete humour
bypass and some perversion of political correctness I made a comment in
the OOTB 308 review accusingCalum Carlyle of casual homophobia. Calum is
not homophobic and I made the comment to make some righteous point about
being careful what you say on stage, which seemed obvious and appropriate
when typing the review bleary-eyed at 1.15 in the morning. In the cold
light of day it’s obvious my spurious point should have been dumped
quietly in the recycle bin. Many apologies to Calum who was completely
innocent of all charges.”

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OOTB 307 – 26 June 2008

Posted 26/06/2008 By admin

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is fitting that Calum Haddow is our Featured Artist tomorrow night, as he’s just supplied us with quite possibly the greatest review ever penned under the OOTB banner. (see below) I was going to include the review I did for the week previous, but to be honest, it doesn’t compare, so I won’t. I’ll send it once you all have a chance to calm down again.

As for the man himself… horror stories told beautifully, kinda like
Poltergeist – The Musical. The last time I saw Calum, I had tears in my eyes by the end. It is gripping, awesome, and unmissable.

For now, though, behold….

OOTB 26/6/08

Konichiwa b*tches.

Now then. You and I are to have words. You weren’t there. You don’t know. You’ll never know. OOTB shifted on its very foundations and microphones and electrics slipped away through the cracks in the earth. We huddled together for warmth around a table and sang our little hearts out. And you will never know what it felt like. Because you were too busy watching the football. Well, I hope that worked out for you. I hope that worked out just dandy. Because while you were sitting on your sofa screaming like a startled chimp at a box that will never scream back, we were all in the Canon’s Gait with our music.

I wasn’t even going to tell you the details, because frankly you don’t deserve them, but then my dark shell cracked and a tiny glint of light came through. So I’ll give you just the tiniest insight into what you’ve missed.

When all the wires have been pulled out and the hum of the amps have died down, a guitar sounds very different. The echoes ring around the corners of the room and feel like they’re tumbling around in the dust. It is, however, voices that benefit the most. Silence between words carries weight and intent and paralysis sets in as your body is pinned to your seat by the words. Nothing gets lost between monitors and back-line, no signals get altered by slides and twists, every note is a note and a nothing more. Songs can breathe easier in the open air. No cables twist around their throats. I’m sure Davie-o is about ready to send out his attack dogs any moment now. He’s held a piece of our clothing in front of their noses and they have picked up our scent.

People talked to one another. This! This! This is what I got into music for. After the end of the song, people would ask about the lyrics, they would gently probe and find out the inspirations and ideas that went into the work. Last Thursday did not feel like an open mic night. Last Thursday felt like a roomful of friends with guitars. Last Thursday was a genuine light in a dark world. And you weren’t there. Egos seem to have been left at the door, there was no strict three song limit, people just played as many as they fancied. Know what? Nobody overdid it. Nobody outstayed their welcome. Whoever was up would play a few then graciously pass on the next person.

And the songs, ah the songs Jim, they’d melt your face. I was actually making a point of not mentioning anyone that played*, but I feel that honourable mention should at least be made to our featured act for the evening, Pip Robinson. This was the first time I’d seen her play, but then I haven’t actually been at OOTB for a while because I am a fool and a hypocrite. I have to say though, I think her music particularly suited the odd setting for the night, it seemed to swell and condense, the (notable) dynamics of the songs being boosted by the acoustic set-up and the enraptured audience. Her lyrics carefully avoided the open mic trap of drifting past opaque and into seemingly indecipherable. However, she managed to retain a very elegant grasp on her subject matter and her songs were as emotionally accessible as they were beautifully considered.

And you will get nothing more from me.

*Actually, on this note I would like to apologise to anyone who was desperately wanting to be reviewed, because its not going to happen. I want to make sure that the others learn their lesson for the next time. The only people that are going to know how good you were will be the people in that room on that night, and that is the way that I want it to stay. We will all carry these secret memories around our necks and keep them with us until the very day we die. They will be ours and ours alone. And plus this way it leaves less room for my petty sniping.

Review: Calum Haddow

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