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OOTB 290 – 28 February 2008

OOTB 290 – 28 February 2008

CBQ, Eddie, Calum Carlyle, Free Loading Frank, Broken Tooth, Dave O’Hara, Aaron Lowenberger, Iona Marshall, Nyk Stoddart, Ross Nielson, Trent Amour, Jake Cogan & Ross

The Canon’s Gait was packed for a fun-packed night of stylish performers – Big Jim wore his compering hat and an exceedingly fetching Out Of The Bedroom t-shirt (available at OOTB, be quick to get hold of this season’s limited edition must-have!).

OOTB old-schooler CBQ headed off proceedings with a dreamy number recalling how he ‘fell for [her] blue eyes across the moon’… Then ‘The End of Everything’, which raises the tempo a bit, and promptly sends me spiralling into melancholic ‘if only I’d known then what I know now’ desperation.  Ah, you can’t beat a bit of misery, I always say. The third song transports us to a continental cafe; sipping coffee and watching the world go by under the setting sun.  It was quite beautiful.

Eddie (minus is compatriot, Chris – who are part of Broken Lights I believe), is someone I have recently discovered and I’m very much enjoying discovering his tunes.  This was the first time I’d seen him without Chris, but he still managed to do justice to the songs.  His songs seem to talk of wild places and the weather, perhaps some metaphor for life. Anyways, just my thing.  ‘Rock’ describes how they built their house on a hillside, so when it rains, they’ll be ok.  That’s some top notch forward planning what with all this climate change & flooding stuff.  He then treats us to a brand new song, which I didn’t quite catch the name of.  It has a dark moody intro on the bass notes of the guitar. It makes me think of listening to radio whilst floating in the sea.  He says ‘there’s something lurking under the water’.  Eek. The final number, ‘High Acclaim’, is sweetly melancholic, sung over beautiful picky chords.  I love the vocal style, soft yet with depth.

Calum Carlyle is looking very dapper, in very smart suit attire.  He delivers a set of quirky & very well conceived commentaries on life. ‘Whispers in the wind’ was probably my favourite of the night, with a really intriguing walking bass-line on the guitar, mixed with chiming chords.  He talks of tea with sugar, served up with cheese. How very British.  From that, we switch to beefed up rock n roll where you can almost hear the fuzz box and the drum kit.  Dark & unsettling melody swirls over the clatter of bashed guitar, it’s cool as.  A bit more laid-back on the third song ‘Don’t go away’ (?), which features random falsetto sections.  Love a bit of that.

We are treated to one of Free Loading Frank’s public health messages in a wee one song slot…. you know the one… ‘Cannabis is very good for you’. Indeed, none of us should ever need the doctor ever again.  Frank pulls off this kind of thing better than anyone I know, you truly do believe him & his nursery rhyme type melody.

Next up is an OOTB debut!  Or hang on a minute, don’t I know that face? Crikey, it’s Mr Jim Thompson, aka the man formerly known as Electric White Boy, now known as ‘Broken Tooth’.  Good to see that the name change hasn’t resulted in a style change, and we still have our skilful bluesman with his ever-powerful vocals.  ‘Hold Fast’ starts small and ends big. No, massive, with outro full of fancy guitar work and big crescendo.  Second, ‘Miller’s Daughter’, complete with new intro (nice).  It’s one of my preferred Jim songs, and was good to hear.  I wondered if he ever spoke to the miller’s Daughter, or he only ever just saw her across the water. ‘Will you sing at my funeral?’ was a bit less of the quiet sensitive side, and back with the blues gravely voice, and it gets all speeded up at the end. Pretty cool…

Dave O’Hara, the elusive sound man emerges from behind his desk and enchants us with some of his fragile classical-style instrumentals.  He gets more confident every time I see him, though he still hides behind that hat.  His second tune was my favourite of the set, quite brooding and repetitive, and it draws you in like, er, a spiral stair-case going down and down into black emptiness.  I liked.  Finally, he tested out a flamenco style tune, still in development.  Hope it keeps developing, it definitely showed signs of becoming an O’Hara classic.

And then suddenly, without any notice, Big Jim transformed into Mr Rob Sproul-Cran, and our dreaded hero took over the reigns in style (yes, he too looked pretty dapper in trade-mark suit).

Aaron Lowenberger has been one of the big discoveries of 2008, but sadly, this ootb REALLY IS his last ever before returning to the other side of the pond 🙁  He’ll be sadly missed as he’s one of the most interesting and exciting guitarists kicking about these here parts.  Watching him doing his melodic instrumental guitar acrobatics is nothing short of awe-inspiring.  He played us a new song, ‘the way forward is back’ (perhaps a reference to his departure?) which was an optimistic sounding, bouncy tune with nice little hammer on and pull-offs, brings a tear to the eye.  Good luck Aaron.

And then for tonight’s featured act, the somewhat legendary Iona Marshall. She’s happy to be invited back to ootb, after it supported her back in the early days, and she gives a very assured performance, show-casing her vocal talents and distinctive style.  The first song ‘Two Hearts   is one of my faves, about being left hanging in the ocean, waiting for her love to bring her back to shore – in this case it’s the tides she awaits.  I like the metaphor of the sea.  Another highlight for me was the protest song against our favourite US president, which follows traditionally folky protest song rules, but is well worth the listen.  Her vocal style is unique, it jumps around all over the scale effortlessly, and sometimes appears to sing entirely different rhythms from the guitar, yet it all fits together perfectly, she even does a song in Spanish, which is great – luckily, or unluckily, my Spanish is quite sparse, so I don’t really know what it was about.  Her set was over all too soon… she finished with a number about wanting to be on a mountain – I can relate to that.

Nyk Stoddart – overcomes some technical issues with guitar and has Rob SC hold his lead into the end of the guitar while he’s playing.  It adds a certain something to the performance, but restricts him from his usual stage antics, unfortunately.  Still, stuck to one spot he still plays a blinder, punching out all the favourites. Fake jazz is top of my list, summing up the plight of a jazz guitarist – or at least someone attempting the old jazzy chords.  Nyk’s actually a pretty flash guitarist, and leaps effortlessly between strange diminished chords.  I love these kinds of chords, which perhaps isn’t the point, but what the hey, I enjoyed it. His last song exclaims ‘I’m an idiot, I’m a fool, and I don’t understand your rules’.  We’ve all been there.

Ross Nielson is the true indie troubadour, and looks the part with woolly hat and earnest lyrics about seeking the truth.  ‘Remember the time we stood in the dark?’…. he asks.  You can tell he really means it, and he really feels it.  His next song ‘Let Faith decide’, is similar in tone. Finally, he gets a bit wistful, remembering how ‘stars were in your eyes’ (or was it ‘you were on ‘stars in their eyes”? – er, no, maybe not).  I’m not sure if Ross has a band, but I think I can hear parts in my head. I reckon he can hear them too, and some of these songs would probably sound great with some more instrumentation.  They’re true dark indie chic.

Trent Amour looks like a proper indie kid too (maybe indie’s not the right word, but I like his t-shirt).  He sings in a very high register, full of emotion and real pain.  I must admit I was beginning to flag at this point in a very enjoyable evening, so didn’t catch as many of the words as I would have liked, but I did hear him mention ‘living in sin, waiting for answers’…. But do the answers ever come? He sings a song about some friends of his in love; I couldn’t tell if it was a happy ending.  Finally ‘my heart beats every time’, is a ballady, heart-felt song with that high vocal register lingering over dark chords.  Like Ross before him, there’s potential here for a band to really add to these songs.

Jake Cogan & Ross – I have never seen Jake before, and was very pleased to see that Jake was indeed a female Jake, given the severe lack of women performers at the moment it was a long awaited welcome change, and a great way to end a packed night at the CG.  Jake’s voice is one of the best, so deep, powerful and strong, yet with a massive range, and an ability to reach the high notes and sing softly at the same time.  Ross’s guitar is the perfect accompaniment, arpeggios filling out the sound.  ‘Honest Mirror’ is about, um, an honest mirror, I would say, and how it ‘tells no lies’.  In ‘Think of me’, Jake’s voice is reminiscent to me, of Beth Orton, though a lot more powerful than Beth’s.  It’s beautifully calm & reflective.  Finally, a bit early I know, but we get possibly our first Xmas song of the year… It rocks, dude.  you can tell they’re like total pros. Jake knows how to hang of the mic stand and not fall over, and they just generally know how to look cool & confident, and we could all learn a lot from that.  A perfect end to a top night.

Compere: Big Jim/RSC Sound: Dave ‘ga ga’ O’Hara Review: Lindsay Sugden

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