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OOTB 338 – 14 April 2009

Mutant Lodge

Nyk started off with a set of new material, the only thing you can expect about Nyk’s songs is that you don’t know what to expect. Mr Sleaze was a bright and buzzy satire about a music night host who only opens his mouth in order to change feet. Well that’s my interpretation anyway. “Kitten in a Bong” Nyk insists is just a made up story, but it must be true because I read it in The Metro, “Ancient hippies sit around all day long, listening to Gong”… quite! The set finished with burst of frenetic weirdness with “Calypso”, a surreal moment in anybody’s life.

Peter

Peter’s set featured a harmonium and Mongolian throat singing, I promise that I’m not making this up! I’ve heard throat singing before, on paper it looks like it should be impossible as the singer generates an overtone to their own voice so that they’re singing two notes at once. It sounds a bit like a Step Phaser or some kind of high pass filter. Peter used the Harmonium as a drone note as he sang in a clear tenor voice, liberally incorporating celtic melodies and high Bel canto notes. The first two songs were about Selkies, a Scottish version of the mermaid legend in which some seals have the ability to shed their sealskins and take on the form of a beautiful human. The stories about them usually don’t end well with some poor love struck human falling in love with a Selkie when they’re walking on the land and stealing their sealskin so that they can’t ever return to the Sea. There have been a number of folk songs written about them over the years, and I’m sure Pete’s second song was based on one of them. There are some singers who can make calm descend over a room and silence an audience, Peter certainly has that enviable gift. A beautiful voice… perhaps someone to consider for a featured artist slot, the ruling junta at OOTB can ponder that one. In any case it would be a pleasure to have him back at some point

Brokentooth

So I was up next and at a bit of loss as what to follow Peter with. For the record it was:
Guns in the Desert
Hearts and Spades
Muses Song
I gave a little speech about my strange belief that music literally is Magic. We talk about music quite happily in magical terms, ie “enchanting, bewitching, evocative, spellbinding” etc In the middle ages composers were encouraged to avoid using the devils interval, a flattened fifth, because of the belief that it really did conjure up Ol’ Nick, Beelzebub, the Adversary, The Prince of Lies, Set, Satan, The Lord of this World, Lucifer himself. Not that I believe a word of that b*llocks! Oh by the way the flattened fifth became the backbone of the blues and heavy metal.

Calum Carlyle

Calum opened with “The Acid Test” which sounded slightly reminiscent of Jimmy Page’s guitar work, maybe it was just the 12 string that he was once again using to great effect. Shirat HaYam (Song at the Sea) is based on a song from the Old Testament that Calum took the brave artistic decision to learn phonetically and sing in the original Hebrew. Interestingly the song name checks Elohim, a name for God which can be translated as “Gods and Goddesses”. Well I find it interesting as it seems to suggest to me that the early Jewish people didn’t believe in a monotheistic patriarchy. On a lighter note the vocal line at the beginning, homage to “Paint It Black” at all Mr Carlyle? Calum slipped in a cheeky cover of Storyville a song by Hannah O’Reilly, you’ll hear more about her and the song later.

Ryan

Young Ryan commanded the stage next with a song called Trotsky’s Ghost, apparently about a middle management type wigging out on crystal meth and imagining that he’s being haunted by the spectre of the dead communist; in terms of theme and music it reminded me a bit of Morrissey and The Smiths, or similar intelligent literary rock. The second song was called “Destroyer” about the end of the world as we perceive it; I love it when songwriters don’t do the regular “boy meets girl saga”. Again another cover was brought to stage on this relaxed night with a version of a Joanna Newsom song. It translated very well from the original harp and squeaky voice of the original, which Ryan let me have a swift listen to when we were outside for a fag during the break. Hope to see you back down the Tron again soon, Ryan.

Nicky Carder and Calum Carlyle

This was the first time I’d seen Nicky and Calum play a set together properly. Nicky’s songs have always sounded to me like they’ve been written with a full band in mind, so it was noteworthy to hear the first stage her sound being fleshed out with more musicians. The interplay between the two guitars was a respectful dance with Calum proving to be an effective foil. Nicky seems to skirt close to a lot of potential pitfalls without actually falling in any of them. She’s got gift for strong melodies and the songs are instantly accessible, but the lyrics are intelligent and quirky enough to avoid becoming lightweight pop rock. Nicky’s got an impressive amount of raw talent (she rides a mean unicycle too; I promise I’m not making this up). It’s going to be interesting to see how her style gets further refined as she’s come an awful long way during her journeyman period with us. A little bit more diversity, with some light and shade, and exploring some different keys could perhaps broaden her appeal. Right now though it’ll be intriguing to find out how the band sound once the ground work has been fully realised.

Hannah O’Reilly

With her opening song I think Hannah pulled a first for Out of the Bedroom by playing a song that had previously been played by another act that night. “Storyville” is about EJ Bellocq a photographer from the early 1900’s based around New Orleans. After his death a portfolio of 89 relaxed and realistic sepia images of whores from the Storyville area of New Orleans, (the city’s notorious legal Red Light District and the legendary birthplace of jazz) were discovered on the original glass plates. With the song Hannah performs a trick similar to the photographs themselves, which aren’t really standard erotica, in creating something slightly melancholy and beautiful from something potentially sordid. The chorus references the unfound series of prints that Bellocq was supposed to have taken later in the opium dens of New Orleans Chinatown. “And then the opium flowed as far as we know, time stood still in 1915.” Apparently Hannah doesn’t really think of herself as a piano player, which is a little unfair as the arrangements are handsome yet understated, and slightly unconventional. Her last song, a new one for which she was still on the book, featured a weird quirk of not having the tonic chord from the key she was playing in. Eg playing in the key of G, but without a G major cropping up. HA! Told you that I’d explain the theory behind that Hannah!

Gordon

Gordon 14 April 2009

Gordon 14 April 2009

Gordon, who I think was a first time performer at the Tron, gave us a harmonically rich piece with sparse lyrics and an indie rock mumble, the guitar carrying most of the piece which segued neatly into his second song in a similar vein . I was talking to Gordon about Bob Dylan before his set; it was only his last piece, a more conventional singer-songwriter acoustic number that has anything of the Zimmerman about it. It would be good to see Gordon back again at some point, as the material certainly had potential and I’d be interested in hearing what else he can bring down to the basement bar in the Tron.

Alex

Alex and Matt split the last three songs between them, Alex was up first and sang in a rich baritone with a very slight country tinge to it. He struck me as a man who is all about the song in a very meat and potatoes, back to basics kind of a way. That’s not a criticism, just because you’ve got a simple set of bricks doesn’t mean that you can’t build something interesting out of them, in fact second song, and my favourite, wouldn’t have sounded out of place being played by the Band or some other .60s/70s luminary.

Matt

Squeezing in one song at the end, Matt in flannel shirt and baseball cap gave us the first airing of a new song, a summery yet heartfelt number which rounded off the night nicely.

Review: Jim Thomson

Compere: James Whyte

Sound: David O’Hara

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