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Out of the Bedroom 671 review – Thursday 14th June 2018

Running order: Matthew Mcghie, Neil Fox, Callaghan & Farrell, Tina Avery, Kathy Muir, Sir Tom Watton, Simone Finally, Majk Stokes, Alex Hendrie, feature act: Ben Inglis.

Scott Candlish, our excellent host for the evening, introduced our first act Matthew Mcghie, making his OOTB debut. Matthew was an innovative performer with an impressive vocal dynamic range. ‘Open’ showcased his high-pitched, guttural singing while telling an aching story of goodbyes which kept me intrigued from start to finish.  ‘Love’ was written in the last week and hinted at an unhappy experience (sample lyric: “you will suffocate until you drown”). Again, he used his voice as a powerful instrument and this was deeply affecting.

Neil Fox, our second debut of the evening, began his set with ‘The Sculptor’, a “murder ballad”. This was a short, pleasant song with a tremulous vocal and fierce guitar playing, particularly impressive considering that he has only been playing for a year. When Neil wrote ‘Love Song’ his friend said “I hope this gets you a shag” but Neil confirmed that it hadn’t, to much laughter from the room! Some great picking on this 12-bar blues and lyric was, to be honest, a little bit desperate! Neil squeezed a third into his 10-minute slot on a song which had “the same chords as Quinn the Eskimo”. I thought this song was the best of the three – loved the vocal range and was his most confident performance.

Callaghan & Farrell are veterans of the Edinburgh music scene, appearing at OOTB in various guises, but this was their first performance as a duo. ‘Bar and Grill’ was a deeply evocative story of a real relationship with Gerry’s singing particularly affecting. The two guitars worked in a relationship of mutual dependence and “Fingers” Farrell chipped in with some nice backing vocals. Sweet as a nut. ‘Lily’s Alone’ was written in the third person from the perspective of a woman who has come out of a failed relationship. A short, evocative, beautiful, melancholy slice of jazzy-pop storytelling.

Tina Louise Avery decided to do her quieter songs this evening and began with ‘Weave The Sea’. A short, delicate folky number, this had a melody which was most pleasing and the story of the weaver gave the feeling of being relaxed in a warm bath. ‘Tea Amongst The Birds’, the title track from Tina’s recent EP, showcased her wonderful guitar picking and clear, emotive vocal. This sounded better than ever this evening with Malcolm on sound desk getting the best out of the acts. Very romantic.

Kathy Muir was our next debut of the evening and this was “a bluesy version of [her] stompy song”. This was a very strong song with Kathy’s lovely vibrato soaring over the room.  Kathy’s voice reminded me a little of Bonnie Raitt – bluesy, soulful and a pleasant surprise. The lyric ‘Can Anybody Really Tell?” explored the idea “if a relationship were a sound”. An interesting starting point, and Kathy wrote about it with honesty. A classic example of music exploring difficult subject matter of relationships and feelings which we don’t often speak about, certainly speaking from a man’s perspective. A great performance from Kathy.

It was great to see Sir Tom Watton back at Out of the Bedroom for the first time since the Kilderkin era – a good three years or so hence. Tom’s backdrop, created for the 10th anniversary of OOTB in 2011, is still being used! Tom’s first song, about men’s mental health, had never been played at OOTB before. Dedicated to those people we all know who don’t easily fit in to normal life, Tom’s lyrics focused on the positive (sample lyric: “life’s full of new things to see… don’t go too soon/ your loss would be too great to bear”). Tom’s final number was an upbeat song about dreams – opening up your wings and flying. Every day is full of new possibilities – true. Short, energetic and top Tom!

After the break came Simone Finally from Durham, North Carolina, USA visiting a friend in Edinburgh and making her OOTB debut. Unfortunately I missed most of Simone’s first song but caught the closing refrain of “now I pay my debts with gold”, which was either metaphorical or suggests that she has come into money! ‘The Lonesome’s Way’ was originally about drunk driving but changed to being happy on your own. A classic slice of Americana and a well-crafted song with excellent guitar playing and a beautiful, clear, resonant vocal. As Simone had come so far, Scott gave her a third song. ‘Travelling Mirage’ was written about her father who died when she was young and was soft, warm and fuzzy and extremely poignant.

From the sublime, to Majk Stokes! But seriously, Majk’s first song ‘Morning, Noon and Night’ was about “love and other mental health issues”. About the adolescent trait, also often found in adults, of having an obsessive attraction to someone. Majk successfully got the audience singing along, for the first time this evening, and it’s a skill to take a difficult subject and make it fun. ‘Alan Rickman’ was a short piece about the much-loved late actor. Majk’s third song was a bawdy tale of male and female stereotypes worthy of ‘70s TV such as Benny Hill and On The Buses. Fair play, Majk had several women in the audience tittering. A very engaging and amusing performance from Majk.

Final debut of the evening came from Alex Hendrie with “three depressing songs for you”. I disagree with that as the songs were wistful and angry but not depressing. ‘How It Used To Be’ was reflective and written from the perspective of someone who has lived life well. ‘Set Yourself Free’ featured some delightful picking and reminded me of some of The Eagles’ early work (sample lyric: “set yourself free / on love that is gone”). ‘Final Straw’ was an upbeat, strident number about fighting injustice… a good fight for sure. The lyric “can’t sit  back and let this go on” makes me want to get out of my chair and punch the air saying “hell yeah!”

Ben Inglis, our feature act for the evening, closed the show with a fine set accompanied by Alan on the cajon. ‘Blue Shoes’, the first song he ever wrote, was a strident number featuring Ben’s trademark strong Scottish accent and catchy pop melody. The title ‘I Want It All’ said it all – he wants all life can offer now. This rocker is track two on Ben’s forthcoming CD. ‘It’s Alright’, about the rollercoaster of life and “shining bright”, was direct, uncomplicated and straight-to-the-heart music. ‘I Can’t Sleep’ was about hearing voices in his head and imagining things at night causing lack of sleep. Ed Sheeran would be pleased to write some of these songs. ‘Lonely Road’ showed The Verve influence coming through (sample lyric: “take my advice / just be nice”). ‘Whatever You Want’ was a three-chord wonder on the subject matter of leaving the 9 to 5 drudgery to follow your dreams. Sample lyric: “maybe it’s time to open your eyes / whatever you want / whatever you need / you can have it”. ‘A Long Way Down’ rocked and was probably my favourite of Ben’s songs this evening and I’d like to hear this with his full band. Ben finished, suitably, with ‘Hope’ which is the title track of the EP and was an anthemic, earnest ballad in the lineage of classic Britpop such as Oasis, Verve and Cast. Best wishes to Ben for his EP launch in Bathgate on Saturday 30 June.

James Igoe

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