Category Archives: Martin John Henry

Countdown to De Rosa Saturday

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The countdown is very much on to Saturday’s joint Cool Cat Club/MPT De Rosa show in Dundee – the band’s first in the city since the end of 2008 and their first after the release of third LP ‘Weem’ on Friday.

As at Saturday’s sold out show at the Hug and Pint in Glasgow, the core members of the band, Martin John Henry (guitar/vocals), Neil Woodside (drums) and James Woodside (bass) will be joined by Gill Fleetwood on keyboards and vocals.

The new album ‘Weem’ has been picking up some rave reviews already. Here’s a couple:

The Skinny – “Five stars – Beguiling from the first listen”

http://www.theskinny.co.uk/music/reviews/albums/de-rosa-weem

Clash Magazine – “An enthralling poetic document”

http://clashmusic.com/reviews/de-rosa-weem

There’s also been a nice interview with Martin by Alan Morrison in the National last week.

http://www.thenational.scot/culture/de-rosas-a-band-with-a-mission-for-real-melodies.12319

Advance tickets for the show are £6 and are available online from We Got Tickets and in person from Groucho’s.

Previously on MPT:

Martin John Henry interview (January 2016)

‘Weem’ LP review

Big Sound – De Rosa interview

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After just a handful of gigs in the last couple of years, the De Rosa reformation kicks into a much higher gear in 2016 with the release next week of third album ‘Weem’ on Rock Action Records and a quartet of gigs in support of the new record in January. One of those dates is for MPT and the Cool Cat Club at Beat Generator Live in Dundee on Saturday 23rd January.

As Martin told MPT in one of the first interviews he did after the band reformed in 2012 the first priority was to record again and that involved sifting through “hundreds” of songs from the band’s first active period.

“We looked at the material that existed and started getting stuff together to write new material.

“At that point we didn’t know if we’d have any kind of label interest or anything so it was pretty much let’s do this for fun and see where it goes. Certainly lyrically I saw it as an opportunity to not bother thinking too much about meaning and to just go for it and see whatever came out.

“I think that’s reflected in the music as well and so it’s quite diverse. It was fun recording and spending time together after our hiatus.”

The band took a different approach to recording ‘Weem’ than on their previous albums. Rather than working in a particular studio the record was pieced together in a variety of different locations as Martin recounts.

“There were two visits to two different rural cottages where we did most of the tracking. Then we took it back home to do some final overdubs. I did the final vocals at home in Sunderland where I was living at the time and pianos were done at Andy Bush’s home studio in Glasgow.”

At one point in conversation a couple of years back, Martin had suggested that as much as half of the record might be derived from the 2008 Appendices project. However in the end only three of those songs made it onto the final record (but not including MPT favourite ‘Robin Song’.)

“The three Appendices songs on Weem were the only three we liked enough for this album and we had ideas for how to improve them, which I hope we did.

“’Robin Song’ for me was complete at the time of Appendices and we have nothing else to add to it. That’s why we decided to leave it off Weem.”

Although the band had plenty of “old” songs to choose for the record they also generated new material that didn’t make the cut – this time.

“There were three new songs that just weren’t ready yet in terms of arrangement and lyrics, so they’ll be worked on for future releases

 “There was also an instrumental called ‘Grande’ that we recorded. It’s a mix between a gothy Cure sound and a big metal dirge not unlike the Melvins. But it just wasn’t ready on time for this and needs more development.”

The record offers an interesting insight into Martin’s songwriting. On ‘Chip On My Shoulder’ Martin not only borrows a lyric from Prevention’s ‘Flight Recorder’ but, as he explains, the two songs have a deeper connection.

“I think it’s completely normal and fine for someone that writes lyrics to use lyrics again (laughs). If they come to mind and fit.

“I also just really enjoy returning to things I’ve sung before, referencing the past work here and there. It makes the songs feel like they’re related in a deeper way. Like I’m building up an identity through songs, one which is always changing but still connected to the roots I laid down in our early stuff.

“But there’s more to it with those songs, ‘Chip On My Shoulder‘ and ‘Flight Recorder‘. The end of ‘Flight Recorder’ is actually part of the original demo of ‘Chip On My Shoulder‘ so they’re connected in that way. Although the first part of ‘Chip On My Shoulder‘ is its own song but towards the end – it would have connected to the ‘Flight Recorder’ outro! They’re kind of like cousins.”

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As I noted last week in my review of the new record, ‘Weem’ has, at least in part a different sound, something that Martin agrees with.

“The new record has a fatter kind of sound with more instruments. I think it’s a different phase again. Each studio album has had quite a different feel and I’d quite like that to continue, to keep pushing things forward.

Whilst ‘Weem’ certainly has a bigger sound about it, again as I noted, it’s not something that the band have pushed too far. Martin is quick to point out that the band don’t necessarily deserve all the credit for that restraint.

“We definitely were getting to the point where we had overworked it and so the mixing process was very much an editing process and we dumped a lot of stuff.

“It was sent to Andy Miller to mix remotely with pretty much no input from us. We got to a point where we trusted Andy with it. I’d seen the internal workings of it and I struggled to see how anybody else could make sense of it but he did. I think he made a really good job of it.”

At that time the band featured all five of the last line-up of the band but although they worked on the recording of ‘Weem’ guitarist Chris Connick and keyboards player Andy Bush are no longer in the band.

However as Martin explained there has been no falling out.

 “Chris has moved away and couldn’t commit to much that we’ll do in the future whilst Andy’s a touring sound man and just isn’t in Glasgow very often to do his own music.

“But they’re both still good friends and De Rosa collaborators in the long term. Hopefully they’ll come in and add to the things that we do in future. So we’re back to the original three piece that we were at the time of ‘Mend’.”

However the reduction in core membership of the band created something of a dilemma for the band.

“The album was made with the 5 piece before Chris and Andy departed so it’s hard to translate into a 3 piece sound. We did start with that in mind and we could play the record but it just changed it so much.

“So we thought that we should get a helping hand and try to put some more of the record across, so we approached our friend Gill Fleetwood. Gill’s not just playing piano but also samples from the record, bits and pieces of synth and doing vocals as well. We’re really happy with what she’s managed to add to the sound.”

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With the record in progress the band had to find someone to put it out and they had specific labels in mind.

“To us there were three record labels that we wanted to put it out on – Rock Action, Chemikal Undergound and Lost Map.

“If you want to work with a label you just have to see what happens and what interest there is. Scheduling is always a huge factor and Rock Action offered to release it and we were over the moon.

“Chemikal Underground and Lost Map both really liked Weem but had a really busy year ahead with their other releases.

“It’s good to work with a new label and it’s really interesting to be part of a label that’s run by one of our favourite bands.”

After only four live dates in over two years, De Rosa are back on stage four times in the remainder of the month starting with a sold out album launch at the Hug and Pint in Glasgow on Saturday (16th). But these shows are just the start of De Rosa’s plans for the coming year.

“We’ve got a wee Scottish tour in January and then we’re looking to a more substantial tour in the Spring. We’re booking dates for that just now and we’ll be promoting the record for most of the year, I think. Whilst working the next one!”

De Rosa appear at Beat Generator Live in Dundee on Saturday 23rd January for the Cool Cat Club and MPT. Tickets for the show here – more info here.

The full list of January dates:-

 Saturday 16th – Glasgow, Hug and Pint (Celtic Connections) (SOLD OUT)

Saturday 23rd – Beat Generator Live, Dundee (Tickets)

Saturday 30th – Edinburgh, Summerhall (Tickets)

Sunday 31st – Aberdeen, Lemon Tree (Tickets)

Carry No Doubt – De Rosa LP review

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De Rosa – ‘Weem’ (Rock Action Records)

There’s never been a more important band to this blog than De Rosa. Here’s why.

Hearing De Rosa for the first time in 2006 was a revelation in itself but, as a by-product, they also provided me with a route into the Scottish indie scene. I’ve discovered so many of my favourite acts over the last few years, either directly or indirectly, through going to see De Rosa live.

So the news in 2012 that they were reforming to record a third album after a hiatus of 3 years was welcome news indeed because De Rosa have always seemed to me to be one of Scotland’s great under appreciated treasures.

It’s actually taken them a further three years to complete and issue ‘Weem’ – but the resulting record is more than worth the wait.

The striking thing for me is just how central melody is to the record. Their melodies have always been key to my love for De Rosa, they’re what made them stand out from the crowd for me in the first place, but on ‘Weem’ they’re absolutely pivotal.

There’s far fewer of the indie rock dynamics of the earlier records to offer an easy way into the record. Instead repeated plays are key to unlocking the record’s imaginative, melodic twists. No song better demonstrates this than the gorgeous ‘Scorr Fank Juniper’ which is as close to alt-folk as De Rosa have ever come.

Both ‘Falling Water’ and ‘Prelude to Entropic Doom’ tread a similar path, perfectly complementing the dignified atmosphere of ‘Weem’ at the same time as showcasing the record’s quieter, acoustic side.

But there’s also an ambitious scope to this record – in places ‘Weem’ undeniably has a big sound. Yet, despite this, the band have showed an admirable sense of restraint in creating an album of understated elegance, sidestepping the danger of overcooking the songs.

Lead track ‘Spectres’ illustrates that best. Haunting and stately, it’s perhaps the LP’s key track – a distinct two hander which builds throughout its near 6 minutes running time before coming full circle for its magnificent final refrains.

‘The Sea Cup,’ (along with ‘Falling Water’ and Prelude …’, one of three re-recorded tracks from 2008’s Appendices project) was a live favourite even before the release of ‘Prevention’, and finally gets the sort of recording it has always deserved. It’s perhaps the closest thing the record has to an obvious single.

Instrumental ‘Fausta’ is the only other track which has appeared before but surely only true Gargleblast trainspotters will know the track from the Gargles Xmas sampler in 2011. Yet it works perfectly as a bridge between the two sides of the record.

In a smart piece of sequencing these previously heard tracks have been placed in the middle of the record neatly avoiding the sense of dislocation that might have been created by hopping between the older and the newer songs.

Having earlier said that the album is largely devoid of rock dynamics, ‘Chip On My Shoulder’ is an obvious exception. It’s quite easy to hear how this could have been charged up into an out and out rock song. But instead ‘Chip’ takes a subtle approach similar to ‘Flight Recorder’ on ‘Prevention’. These songs though don’t just have a recording approach in common but they also share both a lyric and strands of musical DNA.

I could talk more about the rest of the album, perhaps the majestic ‘Devils’ or the exquisite closing track ‘The Mute’, but suffice to say everything I’ve ever known about De Rosa (and Martin John Henry’s previous solo work) suggested that there wasn’t the faintest chance that I wouldn’t end up loving this record. And, of course, I do.

Yet whilst ‘Weem’ may have a significantly different feel to the previous albums, it is still unmistakeably, gloriously, De Rosa.

It’s only early January but ‘Weem’ has already set an impressive, towering benchmark for the rest of 2016.

‘Weem’ is released by Rock Action Records on Friday 22nd January 2016 and will be available on vinyl, CD and download.

MPT and the Cool Cat Club are delighted that De Rosa will be appearing at Beat Generator Live in Dundee in support of the record on Saturday 23rd January. Tickets for the show are available here with more info on the show here.

The band also have dates in January as follows:

Saturday 16th – Glasgow, Hug and Pint (Celtic Connections) Tickets

Saturday 30th – Edinburgh, Summerhall Tickets

Sunday 31st – Aberdeen, Lemon Tree Tickets

 Here’s the video for ‘Spectres’:

 

 

 

MPT’s E.P.s of 2015

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It’s been a good year for E.P.s (/mini albums) even if one of the ones I’ve listened to the most this year doesn’t (quite) qualify! But more of that later. The list …

1. The Paranoid Style – Rock’n’Roll Just Can’t Recall (Battle Worldwide)

Without question the most played record of  the year in the MPT household, this was pretty much a stick-on for number 1 for most of the  year. From the Debbie Harry meets Husker Du punk energy of ‘National Sunday Law’, (and after missing out on the equivalent 2013 award) it was clear that The Paranoid Style had upped their game again. Classic rock’n’roll with brilliant lyrics. What more can you ask for?

Here’s the lead track:

2. Memory Man – Lost Lovers (Black Ditto)

Essentially a calling card for the band, ‘Lost Lovers’ bundled the band’s two singles to date alongside 2 equally excellent brand new tracks

3. Wozniak – Auster (MYT)

Their best release to date (including their best song so far ‘Snow Effect’) ‘Auster’ confirimed Wozniak as a band on the rise

Is it too much to hope for an album next year?

Here’s, without doubt, the best video of the year:

4. Henry & Fleetwood – On The Forest Floor (Olive Grove)

Ahead of the new De Rosa L.P. in January, Martin John Henry released his first new material since ‘The Other Half of Everything’ in collaboration with harpist Gillian Fleetwood back in April. A gentler record than he’s been involved with before, perhaps, but still packing quite an emotional heft. An album will follow at some point.

5. Tuff Love – Dross (Lost Map)

Consolidating the success of debut E.P., ‘Junk’, ‘Dross’ was the start of a remarkable year which took in supports to Ride and Grace Jones (!) and ended with third E.P. ‘Dregs’. The self effacing titles couldn’t be further from the truth. Watch them go in the New Year!

6. The Mirror Trap – Silent Men (self released)

Very much a transitional year for Dundee’s Mirror Trap with only a handful of Scottish gigs and just the one release. Oh, yeah, and a support on Placebo’s UK tour. ‘Silent Men’ included a couple of re-recorded tunes from the last L.P. with three new songs all of which comprehensively proved that the Mirror Trap have got the material to succeed. Another band for whom 2016 could be a big year.

7. Le Thug – Place Is (Song, By Toad)
8. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – DILF_77 Would Like To Meet (Chemikal Underground)
9. Split Single – Live E.P. (Split Single Music)
10. Supermoon – Oh Supermoon Vol. 1 (Song, By Toad)
11. Diet Cig – Over Easy (Father/Daughter)

Honourable mention

Fazerdaze – Fazerdaze E.P. (self released)

I was SO tempted to stick this in because I’ve listened to it as much of most of the E.P.s on the list. But given that it was officially released in 2014 I’ve strictly applied the rules and can’t really use the fact that ‘Zero’ was on the Beech Coma compilation as more than an excuse for an honourable mention.

But, still a great record that is well worth checking out. The arrival of single ‘Little Uneasy’ late in the year (as a precursor to the Fazerdaze debut album next year) was an unexpected bonus.

The track that got me hooked:

Back to Nature – Henry and Fleetwood interview

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One of the early treats of 2015 has been ‘On The Forest Floor’ the debut E.P. from Henry and Fleetwood a duo comprising Martin Henry from De Rosa and Gillian Fleetwood from the State Broadcasters.

The E.P. is the first substantial work Martin’s been involved with since his solo LP in 2011 and interestingly, it’s perhaps closer in tone to his previous work than the live performance we saw at Randolph’s Leap’s ICDTTM3 the other week. With just the two of them Martin and Gill’s played with a stately air of grace which perhaps owes more to Gill’s other band the State Broadcasters than to De Rosa.

On record however the extra instrumentation lends an extra scope to the songs whilst still recalling the quieter parts of Martin’s back catalogue. Overall though there’s a real sense of serenity in the songwriting.

There’s a strong connection in the songs to nature, explicit in the song titles with even the instrumental called ‘Timber’. Musically, second track ‘Forestry’ may be the key to the E.P. – the early part of the song is hushed but, with layered parts added throughout, it builds to a climax.

After their performance at ICDTTM3, I spoke to Martin and Gill about the forthcoming record and their plans for the near future.

First off we talked about how the collaboration had come about. Although they’d both moved in similar Glasgow music circles for a number of years, it took a Danish pianist (and a Scottish sound engineer) to introduce them as Gill explains:

“We’ve got quite a lot of mutual acquaintances but we didn’t know each other at all until we were touring with Agnes Obel.

“Andy Bush, who’s also in De Rosa, was her touring sound guy which was how I’d ended up touring with Agnes – through Andy.

“When we came to tour in the UK, we were thinking it was all going to be a bit of a slog. In general in Europe you’re much better looked after, the venues are beautiful, the staff are really nice but touring’s harder in the UK. So she was kind of dreading it.

“Andy suggested Martin and he came on board which was just brilliant because he’s got such a great way about him and just turned it into a much better thing than it would have been without him.

“He took the reigns as tour DJ and just repetitively nailed it. On tour you get these difficult dull moments or when you’ve played a good show and he would just have the right song. This guy just knows his music and it was absolutely brilliant.”

Martin also has positive memories of the tours in the U.K. and on mainland Europe with Agnes.

“It was a really nice experience getting to sleep between gigs rather than driving hundreds of miles. Gill was there and we bonded over music tastes, tastes in alcohol and stuff. It was good.

“We really just made friends and talked about working together.”

For a while, with Martin based in Sunderland and Gill busy with other projects, the opportunity to play music in the same room didn’t present itself. But Martin says that the willingness to collaborate wasn’t dimmed.

“We kept in touch and we realised that there was a possibility there that we could both explore areas that we hadn’t had a chance to in our bands.”

Gill agrees:

“We both had quite a lot of other plates spinning. I do quite a lot of traditional Scottish folk music and I write as well in a string group, more chamber music.

“So time is tricky but we’re both really dedicated to it now and this year we’re both putting it at the front of what we’re doing.”

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With a working relationship established an unusual opportunity presented itself as Martin recalls.

“There’s an estate up in the Morvern peninsula called Drimnin Estate. The people that own the estate had some lottery funding to develop an old chapel on the grounds that they would get various musicians and artists in to use the space.

“Up until that point, when we won the commission, they’d only had classical musicians so we were the first different act that they’d had.

“Basically you get the use of the church for the week to create and to play and rehearse then on the Friday night the whole community comes to watch what you’ve done and it was great. There were people of all ages and it was a lovely atmosphere.”

With this experience behind them, they both have definite ideas on how they’ve benefited from each other’s perspective.

Martin: “For me it was getting to look at traditional music and connecting with Scottish music a bit more.

“With Gill, as someone who’s been immersed in tradition and trad folk, she was maybe looking to push the boundaries a wee bit and how she could use her background and the harp a bit differently.”

Gill: “We’re both really into environment and how that shapes what we do. While we’re from really different backgrounds there is a lot of crossover so I think that finding those areas of common ground has become really interesting for us both because you think you kind of know stuff then you realise that you don’t! You meet someone who appears to be really different to you but in fact is coming at it from a different angle which is really inspiring and really refreshing as well.”

Martin also feels that working with Gill rather than the all male members of De Rosa has impacted on his writing.

“It’s a wee bit more optimistic but it’s maybe more romantic as well. I don’t know if it’s working with the male/female thing and I can be more relaxed and softer in my lyrics.”

Place has always been a vital component of Martin’s songwriting as reflected on the two De Rosa albums to date but, for ‘On The Forest Floor’, Martin reckons that his input takes inspiration from a different type of place.

“I think it’s more of an imagined place. It’s nothing new, but the yearning for wilderness and maybe the state of mind that you find in places that are rural and less populated. They’re probably the experiences that most connect you with the real world when you’re in places like that with close friends and loved ones.

“But it’s also about the imaginative potential and the poetic potential of those places.”

In terms of the new E.P. the material was well under way before the Drimnin adventure as Martin recounts.

“Gill and I had done a wee bit in Gargleblast studio in Hamilton and a wee bit at home. So the E.P. was kind of half developed at that point and we wrote a lot of new material there which is starting to be developed. The E.P. was finished after that.”

Gill is very proud of the record but feels that it’s just a starting point for Henry & Fleetwood.

“It’s good to get it out as it’s been finished for ages, as is so often the case with these things but I like it very much. I hadn’t listened to it for ages until it came back in print and I stuck it on and thought ‘this is cool’.

“It’s an interesting little nugget because originally those four songs were going to be the first four songs of the album. But the new stuff you heard tonight is quite different and is evolving. So it made sense to do this as a little nugget and the album will have a different feel.”

Although there’s an instrumental on the E.P., the fact that they played three instrumentals at the CCA doesn’t mean that H&F are going to be an alt folk take on Godspeed as Martin explains:

“Most of the stuff comes out of instrumentals, out of jams, messing about with loops and improvising. The vocals are written later so some of the stuff you’ve heard tonight might end up having vocals. We’re presenting stuff that’s really a work in progress at the moment as well.”

‘On The Forest Floor’ is coming out on Olive Grove Records and both are delighted about that if initially they didn’t think that it was likely, as Gill remembers.

“I’ve known Lloyd (Meredith) since the State Broadcasters album. At first I was like “I’m a music industry cynic, what does he want from us? Surely he can’t work for nothing!” But he really is that nice, he’s a total champ! He’s been super, super good to us.

“I sent him the E.P. because I knew that he’d like to hear it. But I also knew that he’s got so many things on his plate I didn’t expect him to come back and say that he’d like to work with us. So when he did, I kind of fell off my chair! But that’s how he works, if he’s into it, he’s into it.”

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Martin was equally pleased to work with Olive Grove.

“Gill’s band had worked with them and I know Lloyd well. I’m always really impressed with the effort that he puts in for his acts. I was just really happy that he wanted to work with us and I knew that he would do a great job with the E.P.”

With a record to promote, Martin and Gill have a series of live dates in the next couple of months, starting with a Glasgow launch for the E.P. which Martin is looking forward to.

“The launch is at the Glad Café is on Saturday the 11th. It’ll be pretty much the same set-up as tonight with just the two of us with maybe a couple of new things thrown in.”

The launch is the start of a run of dates as Gill describes.

“On the Sunday afternoon (12th) we’re doing a free little gig in the Braw Wee Emporium in the Barras Art and Design Centre at the back of the Barrowlands, which is my friend’s shop. Jennifer McGlone runs Glow Arts who do lots of really fantastic community arts projects. She also stocks an amazing selection of CDs.

“In May we’re playing at Brew at the Bog up in Inverness which is my hometown so I’m very excited about that. I’m doing that with the State Broadcasters as well so that’s going to be a fun weekend.

“Then we’re doing a fund raiser for Scottish Women’s Aid, I think, in May (at Summerhall in Edinburgh). That’s going to be really fun, we’ve to learn a cover of a song by a girl band. I don’t know what we’re going to do but I’m championing maybe ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’. So we’ve got a few irons in the fire just now. “

Martin explains that the run of dates is likely to be the last time that Henry & Fleetwood will be in the public eye for a while although, tantalisingly, he raises the prospect of playing live with others.

“After this burst of live stuff up until May, we’ll be concentrating on recording for a few months. We’re going to book some studio time quite soon to get the album done properly.

“But during that time when I’m recording with Gill I’ll hopefully be getting out with De Rosa and playing with those guys.”

It turns out that the aforementioned Braw Wee Emporium is more than just a shop for Henry & Fleetwood as Gill explains.

“We spend one night a week in the shop writing and we sit there and rehearse. It’s a great space because it’s really quiet. We’re trying to write this really quiet music and it’s good for us to break out of the normal rehearsal room things.

“I think it’s just nice to be in a different environment from the standard rock set-up where there’s other guys shouting and there’s macho stuff going on.”

‘On The Forest Floor’ is released on Monday 13th April by Olive Grove Records. You can pre-order the E.P. here or purchase it at one of the following live appearances:

Saturday 11th April – The Glad Café, Glasgow (E.P. launch) with support from Mayor Stubbs and Randolph’s Leap (solo) [More info]

Sunday 12th – The Braw Wee Emporium, Glasgow [More info]

Saturday 2nd/3rd May (day to be confirmed) – Brew at the Bog, Bogbain Farm, Inverness [more info]

Saturday 9th May – Summerhall, Edinburgh – Teen Canteen presents ‘The Girl Effect’ for Scottish Women’s Aid [more info]

Here’s the duo’s live performance of the E.P.’s title track on STV Glasgow’s ‘The Riverside Show’ the other night:

It Was Definitely Alan Shearer – Randolph’s Leap ICDTTM3

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Randolph’s Leap’s I Can’t Dance To This Music 3 – CCA, Glasgow – Saturday 21st March 2015

Yesterday saw the biggest ICDTTM event to date with the 250 capacity event a total sell-out thereby more than doubling the turnout for November’s show at the Glad Cafe.

The afternoon session was kicked off by the first ever solo performance by Kate Canaveral. Principally based around her own songs for the band the highlights were undoubtedly a new song and a really terrific take on ‘Skeletons’ which recast the electro pop tune as an acoustic lament. But there was also a lovely take of David’s ‘Low Winter Sun’.

Next up came my first encounter with Prehistoric Friends. I quite enjoyed them but to be honest a couple of unflattering comparisons were also suggested during their set. Bands with piano to the fore sometimes do that for me. Nevertheless I heard enough to give the singles a go.

The informal nature of the event was highlighted when singer Liam demonstrated a decent throwing arm hurling a Tunnocks teacake to the back of the room where, admittedly ,it was rather neatly caught by Kate Canaveral rather than its intended recipient Pictish Trail.

I also enjoyed Viking Moses’s solo set with an electric guitar. Last time I saw an easygoing North American with an electric guitar was last year when Jon of Virgin of the Birds supported Book Group. There was a similar vibe to Viking’s set although he also briefly set aside his guitar for the piano.

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eagleowl brought the first half to a tremendous conclusion. With just a five piece band, their set didn’t reach the level of intensity that the shows around the time of the album release did but it was still impressive. I’d never really before made the  connection with Galaxie 500 (albeit with approximately 66% less VU),but it seemed a particularly apt comparison for set closer ‘Not Over’.

The second half of the show kicked off with the gentlest act so far in the shape of Henry & Fleetwood. From the titles through to the laid back nature of the songs there was something essentially rural about their music in person and it’s definitely a different direction for Martin. There were a handful of instrumentals too which brought to mind a pastoral Human Don’t Be Angry. I feel like I’ve been a bit negligent in taking so long to catch them but am glad to have sorted that out now. The E.P.’s great too, by the way.

I missed a chunk of Withered Hand’s set (in part to get an interview for the blog and also in part to a desperate need to rehydrate!) but what I saw was as reliable as ever. There’s a real charm to Dan’s solo performances  and that was undoubtedly true of his set last night.

As is often the case he concluded with ‘Religious Songs’ which wasn’t quite the communal singalong it can be at, say, the Queen’s Hall. Perhaps it’s really Glasgow that’s really the more reserved city after all!

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Henry & Fleetwood

If anyone reading this doesn’t know by now how entertaining Randolph’s Leap are, they’re simply not paying attention.But from Adam’s initial, ahem, sea captain’s outfit (with a beret?!), through Andy’s, um, *energetic* dancing, to Heather’s inability to make eye contact with any of her bandmates without cracking up, this show scored highly for entertainment even by the Leap’s standards.

Adam too was in fine form even if he seemed determined to live dangerously. Doubtless winding up his bandmates is par for the course but to take on the venue’s security staff and, perhaps even more riskily, his girlfriend? A brave lad!

Musically they took a bit of a chance too dropping some of their best songs (‘Light of the Moon’, ‘Weatherman’ and ‘Counting Sheep’ to name but three) in favour of some new songs and some lesser played gems. But it actually didn’t make a lot of difference – they were as great as ever, undoubtedly helped by the fact that this was the best sounding show I’ve heard them play. Well, outside of Dundee, at least.

Somewhat unusually the Leap didn’t bring their own shindig to a conclusion – that honour fell to Tigercats.

Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly given the delays in the second half and the late hour, a big proportion of the crowd had departed before Tigercats finally took to the stage at the time they were supposed to be finishing.

Fair to say that they missed a bit of a treat, although I have to confess that we didn’t stay for the whole of their set either.

But that was nothing to do with the band, just tiredeness. Because what we saw was terrific, slightly edgy pop (with a hyperactive bassist) and I’ll definitely be checking out their new album on Fortuna Pop.

They’re also back in Scotland on 8th April doing a Bad Fun gig for Song, By Toad at Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh.

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Tigercats

If that’s the music taken care of, the comedians were a step-up from last time. Paul McDaniels didn’t quite pull it off for me but Andrew Learmonth was just as good as in November – perhaps not that surprisingly since he admitted up front that he was going to deliver largely the same set.

Richard Brown was a new name to me but he maintained the high standard whilst Josie Long, compering the second half of the show, was thoroughly entertaining and completely endearing but at the same time slightly terrifying! But I was surprised that she didn’t know that Peenko is the mayor of Glasgow!

A great day out then even if the running length proved to be at the flagging end of our endurance spectrum. The good news is, if you missed it, on past evidence it won’t be too long before ICDTTM4 comes around. Don’t miss it!

Proper photos from the show here.

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