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OOTB 317 – 9 Oct 2008

OOTB 317 – 16 Oct 2008
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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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