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OOTB 288 – 14 February 2008

Arran Arctic, Freeloading Frank, Nyk Stoddart, Carolyn, Helen, Furious

A bit of an apology to go with this review, as essentially I’m writing it from memory. I was compering the night and our reviewer sadly couldn’t make it. I didn’t take any notes or anything, but this morning I decided it would be a pity not to document the night in some way. So don’t expect much detail (and if you want song names you can pretty forget it). Nonetheless I shall do my best to convey the mood of what was a superb (if short) evening in the company of a wistful few music lovers who have nothing better to do on Valentine’s night.

Arran Arctic Arran took that oh-so-difficult first slot of the night, and I really felt he turned it into and interesting and enjoyable beginning for the rest of us. Warning us at the outset that the whole Hallmark holiday shenanigan (and yes, I believe he is Irish) wasn’t really his bag, and that there would be a distinct lack of mushiness in his set. Nonetheless, a rather sensitive soul is Arran I feel. One song, for example was about his dog. At first he seemed to struggle with the el-cheapo house keyboard (and it really is a horrible piece of kit … the Fisher-Price of musical instruments   as I think I described it). Pretty soon though, Arran had it producing sounds that were pleasing to the ear … a feat I have seen few performers achieve. His playing was nicely understated throughout, only with the occasional technical flourish that demonstrated his simple approach was by choice rather than lack of skill. At one point I realised his hands were each playing different time signatures, one 4:4, the other 3:4. I was quite transfixed.

Freeloading Frank Frank’s an old hand at Out of the Bedroom, he’s been around even longer than I have. In fact he was there at the first ever OOTB. He turned up tonight with some old favourites, including Scully   (a love song) and that one that’s told from the perspective of King Kong …  a personal favourite of mine (and also, a love song). I missed his second song as I went upstairs for a bottle of Schoff, but I’m guessing that was a love song too. He’s keeping busy, too … with several cause-supporting gigs including the Green Party, Palestine and Legalise Cannabis. A great set from a consummate performer; laughs aplenty and all topped off with a blistering kazoo solo.

Nyk Stoddart Head down to pretty much any open mic in Edinburgh these days and the likelihood is you’re going to see Nyk Stoddart playing at some point in the evening. Is he the most ubiquitous performer on the open mic scene at the moment? He seems to have a lot of new material at the moment and really seems to have found his feet as a performer, the difference in even the last year is noticeable. I’d wager that this is down to experience. It’s fairly safe to say that not everyone gets   Nyk’s music, people either seem to like it or you don’t, though his fan club is growing fast. Last night I saw what I think was Nyk at his most accessible, with songs that were more laid back and perhaps introspective than other times I have seen him. The one that stands out in my mind from yesterday was written in the early 90s according to Nyk, and was about a childhood sweetheart of his … quite clearly in keeping with the theme of the night

Carolyn It was Caroline’s first night at Out of the Bedroom, hardly surprising as was visiting from Liverpool, and had brought a fairly large entourage to watch her play. After a slight delay to set up and tune her guitar (soundman Dave seized the opportunity to torture the audience with some techno from his iPod) she was ready to go, and it was most definitely worth the wait. Her music has unexpected and often courageous leaps and drops of pitch and tone, and her voice demonstrates both power and fragility. I’d really like to see more of her performances, and it’s a shame that we’re unlikely to see her again at Out of the Bedroom for a while at least. This set was slightly marred by the fact that the guitar wasn’t quite in tune, I’m sure she was hurrying in order to save us from Dave’s techno. Nonetheless, I’d recommend she tune up in advance next time as it let down an otherwise great set.

Helen Helen was also playing for the first time last night, and her songs contrasted pleasantly with Caroline’s. They were much gentler and quieter, making me think of a female Elliot Smith (Lindsay Sugden often does this too, and it’s no bad thing). She commanded a real silence and awe from the audience. I’m afraid there’s little more I’m able to say about this act, it was faultless and beautiful. Definitely the highlight of my night. I very much hope we see her again.

Furious Finishing off the night was the artist formerly known as Furious George, who’s now operating under an abbreviated name. We haven’t seen him play since the Waverley days, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him come through the doors. Known to live up to his name with his frenetic, ballsy sounds I was a little worried that he might undo the warm Valentine’s glow that previous performers had created in the room. I’ve mellowed   he told me before he went on, and he certainly has. Starting with Neil Young’s Needle and the Damage Done   (we were allowing covers, given the occasion) and finishing with two unusually gentle numbers of his own, I was left feeling how good it is to have this character amongst us again.

Sound: Dave O Compere/Review: Jim W

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