Adam Stafford / Sonny Carntyne / Radio Trees – New Portsound, Rio Community Centre, Newport on Tay – 2nd March 2012
The Simple Minds song title used in the above heading seems perfect to describe Adam Stafford. Regardless of how many people are watching him, both times I’ve seen him he seems totally lost in his performance bringing the intensity of a slow motion preacher to his songs.
If last time (at the Martin John Henry LP launch show) there was a degree of orientation necessary to take in Stafford’s performance, last night offered a better chance to enjoy the show by virtue of having some idea what to expect.
Once again, Adam opened with his guitar and the layered vocals and once again by the end of the set he’d removed the axe and performed solely with his mics.
The first couple of songs were familiar from the autumn and both were impressive, inventive soundscapes. Then there were a couple of new tunes, one of which was easily the most song based tune of the night. The penultimate song ‘Shot-down Summer Wannabe’ seemed to take him into into African, tribal territory. It even enticed a few people onto the dance floor with Adam claiming that he’d always thought that it had a “soul, kind of pop” quality to it. The last song continued in a similar vein albeit it was impossible to dance to.
Stafford is undoubtedly one of the more unique performers out and about in Scotland at the moment and last night’s show was ample proof that all the praise that’s been heaped on him is fully deserved.
Rather bizarrely given the predominance of indie/folk and the Scottish predilection for Americana, I can’t think of too many examples of one genre directly influencing the other. That sounds ridiculous – so go on, shoot me down. But Sonny Carntyne certainly occupy that middle ground.
It was a mature and excellent set which rarely headed into raucous performance. Playing to a home town crowd they were rapturously received finishing with title track from new EP ‘Unicorns and Ghosts’ (available on Wise Blood Industries). Best of the lot though may have been the one quiet song to feature the banjo midway through the set.
The show had been opened by MJ McCarthy from Zoey van Goey in his Radio Trees guise. He performed the bulk of the set accompanied only by his acoustic guitar and played songs from both of his ‘Outside World Strategies’ EPs.
Mid-set he chose to play ‘covers’ of 3 songs from his current and past bands including ZVG’s ‘Cotton Covering’. For the climax of the set he was joined by label boss Mr Stafford who contributed shimmering guitar before adding his vocal loops as well for the last tune.
All in all it was a nice bunch of slightly whimsical but charming acoustic pop tunes and a perfect way to open the evening.
So, a good night out indeed.
More photos from the show here.