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OOTB 281 December 13 2007

OOTB 281 December 13 2007

Lindsay Sugden, Nelson Wright, Steven Brown (debut), Kevin O’Rourke, Electric White Boy, Angus Coull, Craig MacDonald (debut), Jim Igoe, Nyk Stoddart, Jordan Ogg, Big Jim Whyte.

The St Nick’s Night was reviewed by Jim Igoe with a bit of help from Lindsay Sugden- here it is.

The St. Nick’s night started off very quietly indeed for a Christmas night, and it was 8.45 before the first act took to the stage. However, the Canons’ Gait cellar bar got gradually busier as the night went on until it was practically a full house by the end; Daniel Davis enthusiastically guided us through the evening.

First up was Lindsay Sugden (www.myspace.com/lindsaysugden) resplendent in her red and black OOTB t-shirt designed by. erm, Lindsay Sugden.  ‘Bernard Drake’, partially inspired by Nick Drake (first ‘Nick’ reference of the evening), was played immaculately.  I think Lindsay’s recent Nepal trip has given her some mystical power as this was the most confident I’ve seen her on stage.  Ms. Sugden’s guitar and vocal nuances and lyrical inflections on ‘Time Stands Still’ were crystal clear.  Listening to this song was exhilarating, like being a child riding on a carousel.  This was a very enjoyable start to the evening indeed.

Nelson Wright (www.nelsonwright.co.uk) introduced ‘The Wind That Blows The Seeds’ as a song about windy Edinburgh.  A lady near me said “ah yes, the Scottish Seattle”, but surely Seattle is the USA’s Edinburgh?  Anyhow, this showcased Nelson’s excellent guitar playing and Ray Davies-like vocal style to great effect.   ‘Celebration Blues’, written by Nelson and me several years ago, and it was a very weird, slightly uncomfortable experience hearing the tale of my painful late adolescence being sung by someone else.  The humorous, raucous love song ‘You Really Shook My Egg’ encouraged the audience to beat along, with Big Jim on sleigh bells and kazoo and Electric White Boy on bongos.

First debutante of the evening was Steven Brown who started his OOTB career with ‘Superheroes’.  The witty lyrics featured superheroes called Homeless Man, Drug-Free Boy (“the hammer of the hippies”) and Humbug Guy (the ruin of Christmas).  ‘New York City’ was an enjoyable They Might Be Giants cover, written by all-female band Cub, with the brutally honest refrain “everyone’s your friend in New York City when you’re young and pretty”.  There were some references to snow, so full marks to Steven for keeping his set seasonal. ‘Jennifer’ was “a love song” about taking sexual advantage of a girl in a coma.  Steven’s lyrics on the subject were fairly graphic and representatives of both genders in the audience laughed openly at his derring-do.

After the first break Kevin O’Rourke, of Smoked Glass (www.myspace.com/smokedglass) fame, definitely got the audience thinking about mince pies, brandy butter and a big fella in a red hat with a lively, albeit abbreviated, version of ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’.

Electric White Boy (www.myspace.com/electricwhiteboy), back on the scene after a brief sojourn west, was still singing the blues and keeping it real. ‘I’ve Lost My Faith In Love’, about the difference between “faith” and “belief”, featured EWB’s trademark passionate vocals.  EWB’s cover of Nick Cave’s ‘People Ain’t No Good’ was sung in a low register and I thought it suited his voice really well.  The epic, earnest tones of ‘Hold Fast’ completed the three-song set from one of the strongest personalities on the Edinburgh music scene.

Keyboard maestro Angus Coull (www.myspace.com/anguscoull) wore a replica Scotland top for his slot and began with ‘Heart of Stone’.  It was clear that Angus prepares his three-song set more than most and his professionalism could get him far.  The instrumental ‘On The Water’ was an evocative, beautifully played soundscape, which rippled and flowed wonderfully.  Angus gave a stirring, emotional performance on ‘Christmas’, which was haunting and evocative with bucketloads of drama.  A top set.

Young Fifer Craig MacDonald was also making his debut and started with his tribute to heavy metal rocker Ronnie James Dio (yes, the ex-Black Sabbath / Dio vocalist).  Surprisingly, it was actually a jaunty, poppy number!  A cover of Bill Bailey’s ‘Midnight In Parliament Square’ had plenty of character, and animal noises!  His first ever song ‘The Loser of Christmas’ was raw, fun and entertaining.  The line about being sick in the dog’s bowl was particularly amusing.

Next up, after the second break, was Jim Igoe (www.myspace.com/jigoe), i.e. me, and Lindsay Sugden wrote this very kind review:

“It’s pretty difficult for me to be un-biased about Jim’s first song ‘Inga’s Eyes’ as it was always one of my personal favourites when I played the bass in Flowers For Algernon, Jim’s sadly deceased band.  I never thought a song about infidelity could be quite so beautiful.  ‘A Little Peace’ was a Nick-related cover (by Nicole) and apparently this was a Eurovision entry – I wish they were this high quality now.  It seems like a nice optimistic dreamy song about tomorrow.  Jim’s voice sounds better every time I hear it, so clear and melodic.  Finally, maybe Jim’s first famous song ‘Braveheart Beggar’ dedicated to his friend Tom McEwan who lost his son recently.  A heartfelt moment and a very emotional song. Man, I love his voice; did I say that?  Great stuff from the OOTB co-founder.”

One of my favourite OOTB acts of the year has been Nyk Stoddart (www.myspace.com/mutantlodge).  It took me a while to get into Nyk (as with Velvet Underground and Tim Buckley) but now I have “got” him there is no going back.  Nyk’s first song tonight was “a parody of a parody” and displayed his obvious guitar skills and interesting slant on life.  Nyk writes songs from somewhere deep within his (and, collectively, our) subconscious.  ‘Secret Santa’, a phrase that Nyk translated as “death to all”, managed to get audience participation on the refrain “ho, ho, ho Secret Santa”, which must be a first for Mr. Stoddart!  Great stuff.

This was the first time I had seen Jordan Ogg (www.myspace.com/jordanogg) and I was very impressed.  ‘Helpless Again’, about home in the Shetland Islands, gave his high-pitched singing voice free-reign.  I’m always impressed when a singer’s voice is unrecognisable from their speaking voice. It’s like Jordan sucked the air from a helium balloon before he came on stage!  Jordan has a very unusual, memorable and pleasant voice indeed.  His second song was about a girl from Shetland, ‘Muddy Boy Blues’, and ended a special set from the unique Mr. Ogg.

Big Jim 22 March 2005

Big Jim 22 March 2005

Big Jim Whyte (www.myspace.com/jimwhyte) closed tonight’s proceedings with two Christmas offerings.  A song from “Nick” Dando (aka Evan Dando) called ‘Jesus Rides With Me’ was played with passion and mucho guitar skills – an engaging, emotionally honest performance with a great deal of feeling. Jim closed with his reworking of ‘Jingle Bells’, where the original version was completely transformed into something much darker.  Craig provided jingle bell accompaniment to this intense, powerful performance. A fitting way, then, to end the evening. and 2007.

So, that’s all folks for another year – see you again at Canons’ Gait on 3 January 2008.

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

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