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OOTB 309 – 10 July 2008

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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