Glasgow Street Sound


Room 2
Thurs 8th December, 2022


4 musical acts were to perform in a night about City streets (Glasgow) & busking. Room 2 is a great venue and there was a special soul at the place last night. It’s special in that its layout was so well designed so that it can be host to any and every form of music there is. The night may prove beneficial for the ever so personal acts, all of whom stayed wonderfully in character, an evening for guitar and vocals, to own the stage in its also decent proportions.

Killer Whale (a powerful name for a band) came on a stage that was ready to celebrate and in some way inform. Hi stance was heroic, reflecting the evening and his voice was very ready to be listened to. He took a jam (musical) and merged lyrics that were hot, while warming up the room. The sense of celebration formed another woolly jumper creating a tight circumstance of pure heart.

Second on was a musician calling himself ‘Flew the arrow!’His music embarked on an honest passage. Wonderfully skilled of course, beautiful songsmanship through which he easily conveyed some great opinions opening things up. His style was all old Scottish (native) tradition, his melodies were transitional and he gave the musical proceedings a great hoist of wisdom and gratitude.


So we were at no 3, missions accomplished at the bar and what not. Ivy Gno nervously picked up her electric guitar and with bravado performed songs she had written herself still as a teenager. She kicked in with a voice to die for and youth on her side, fitting together so well the immediacy found the intimacy for a night well put together.

So as the final act took to the stage offering to be the last to make the statement that music conveys with a concurrence of appearance, in this talent and wisdom joyfully concentric was what Motopia (technology) would bring to the table. We got to really praise the stage forgetting to adhere to being an audience member who were delighted by what they saw and listened to.


So strong was the voice, the participation an evening given to the streets, to music, to love, to care…? an amazing show casing for all of these successful and driven performers. It was as if to look at the streets in fairness you have to walk into it and see what’s what. Little introduction for the bands themselves was needed we were treated to a take on music that was a show of strength and victory over needless suffering and necessary pain. A wonderful 3 hours of untameable and beautiful music.

Daniel Donnelly

Tom Jenkins, Billy Liar, Skinny Lister: A Matter Of Life And Love Tour


The Caves, Edinburgh
07.12.22.


The Full Moon was shining its rays over Aulde Reekie on a bitterly cold, crisp and frosty December evening. I was heading to the Old Town, a venue called The Caves, steeped in history and situated upon one of Edinburgh’s most powerful leylines for my first Skinny Lister experience along with, not one, but two fine support acts.

First up. Tom Jenkins. all the way from my Motherland, Pontypridd in the valleys of South Wales, a young artist with an inherent fine voice singing songs inspired by his travels around New Zealand complemented by expert guitar playing which proved to be the perfect opener for this rebel rousing night of Celtic grace, warming up the venue and the audience perfectly.

Next up, Billy Liar another solo artist, one of Edinburgh’s finest young Punk As Fuck offerings who has toured extensively through the Uk, mainland Europe, America and Australia, Another expert guitarist and brilliant songwriter, with a voice that has gathered just international acclaim, Billy proved to be another perfect, warm-up for the nights headlining act. The audience were going wild.

Up until this point I had been a Skinny Lister virgin, the capacity audience rapturously welcomed this mighty band on stage as they took us on a journey, expertly warmed up by a brilliant choice of support acts. Skinny Lister ripped into a performance of Celtic stompers, not too dissimilar from The Pogues in their prime, a cajun rockabilly masterclass that has seduced the world since they formed in 2009 The Band have seen many line-up changes throughout the years before settling on this current incarnation of brilliance. Performing songs from their 2021 long player.‘A Matter of Life & Love’, written and produced by the band themselves along with other numbers drawn from an extensive repertoire of the four LPs and numerous EPs that they have released and a few numbers taken from a new body of work.

Written through Dan and Lorna’s recent journey of becoming parents for the first time, it really is a heartwarming family affair, with Lorna’s brother Max on backing vocals and mandolin. Grandparents were on tour too, providing babysitting duties for the entire tour, and Lorna and Max’s father George Heptinstall. taking lead vocals on one of the songs. It’s no wonder this band have such a loyal following they are brilliant. Even dishing out free shots of whiskey to the audience members. Everyone was beaming and having a really Good Time.

Each of the band members have a striking presence beautiful and handsome, Tim Hilsden is a powerhouse of a drummer and Scot Milsom the Bass Player (Double Bass and Electric Bass) is so incredibly cool and funky with supermodel looks. Dan Heptinstall the lead Singer and guitarist equally rich in talent and looks and completing the male voice section, Max Thomas, equally with handsome swagger and mastery of his instrument The female lead vocalist Lorna Thomas a beautiful rock star whose voice and talent completely owned the stage and audience. she had us all in the palm of her hand. Indeed the combination of this collective called Skinny Lister is a sure-fired success A most excellent performance and a brilliant night out. Skinny Lister are going to be huge in 2023, watch this space.

Words: Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Photography: Raymond Speedie

An Interview with Cera Impala


On the back of releasing her hypnotic & elegant new album, Wildest Dreams , the Mumble caught up with its creator for a wee chat


Where are you from & where are you living today?

I was born in Flagstaff, Arizona but I’ve lived in five states permanently including Portland, Oregon, Olympia, Washington and all over California and New Yoik, New Yoik. I also lived in Berlin for five years and I moved to Edinburgh 10 years ago. I’ve stayed in Edinburgh longer than I’ve lived anywhere else consistently now.

What are your first musical memories from life in Arizona?

Singing to myself in the forest. Singing to myself to tune out the dysfunctional world around me. I remember one of my first concerts was Willie Nelson, and he winked at me. I wondered from then on why men cut their hair. It was so nice to see a man with long braids who sang from his heart. Apart from that, my mother wanted to be a blues singer. She played guitar and sang songs that she wrote.  She’s away to that other realm now despite being only 20 years older than me, and if she could read this she would surely be happy to know that though I almost did, I didn’t pawn her guitar.

What instruments do you play & how did you pick them up in the first place?

I pick them up with my hands! I play guitar, baritone and concert ukulele, five-string banjo, piano and shakuhachi. I’d like to pick up the wooden flute here soon, as the trumpet might make our cabin fever turn into something more deadly. Portable stringed instruments make taking the show on the road easier, so maybe it’s a matter of practicality. I can’t see a better tool for a songwriter than a guitar, but it can be overly suggestive at times. I wanted to play the oboe when I was wee, but there wasn’t one in all of the town. I think I was influenced by Tchaikovsky’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ on that one.

Who has been your greatest musical influence over the years?

My first musical influence was Chopin, which might sound ridiculous, if not pretentious. I was unreasonably obsessed though with playing the piano because of hearing that music from a very young age. We couldn’t afford one both in space and money. It wasn’t until my mother married a man that had a piano that I could give it a go. I was probably around nine. Apart from that I love everything from The Meters to Joni Mitchell, Laura Viers to the Pixies. I used to listen to a lot of torch singers like Billie Holiday and early Sarah Vaughn, but right now I’m really into silence. I love very “old” music in general, Hoagy Carmichael and Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Skip James, Memphis Minnie…

Desert island, solar power’d CD player, 3 albums – what are they?

John Fahey, ‘The Dance of Death and other Plantation Favorites, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ by the Beatles (‘Magical Mystery Tour’ is closely tied), Chopin ‘Nocturnes’, and Alan Watts ‘Out of your Mind’ lectures (that’s four, I never was much of a rule follower). I do think I play specifically acoustic music just for this apocalyptic kind of thinking; when the lights go out I want to know that I’m still plugged into something.

Where do your songs come from & how do you shepherd them into existence?

I enjoy your use of the word shepherd here. For a long time I thought that they just dropped from the ether but as I’ve been teaching songwriting in the last many years I have come to realize there is so much a craft-meets-art-meets-craft, absolutely. I am unconsciously working all the time. I tend to ask questions of myself, and the world around me, and then I attempt to answer these questions with as much candor as can be. When I’m stuck, I study music, learn a new song.  And if I can’t answer the question, well – time to insert a good ol’ fashioned instrumental. ‘Banjo is the Swiss army knife of the darkside’ – but also some other more joyful places. And the places that can’t be met with one instrument can be found with another one. My instruments are helpful lovers and they all give me something different, never jilted that I took time with another. In my view, songwriting-as-life is played in and plays with empty space. It’s possible the main thing one needs to shepherd songs, and why I like this word, is that the practice is to realize they belong not to you but the universe; they exist within and without you, revealing themselves with careful observation and gentle nudge, if needed.

What are the key ingredients to your sound?

Harmonic depth, breath, improvisation and playful exchange, distilled poetry humor, candor, viewing vulnerability as strength, and Dr. Dirk’s homebrew.

Why the move to Edinburgh, & how do you find its music scene?

I had a magical and very happy dream about it when I was 24 living in Oly WA, which was a long time ago, but it stuck with me. We came in as EEA members as Dirk, despite seeming American, is actually German. When we lived in Berlin a few unfortunate violent incidents happened so it seemed like a good idea to check it out. Upon arriving, I found a gold ring on the street and Dr. Dirk a jazz hat he felt he very much needed. It had a feather in it already. The music scene has been good to us and I’m grateful to be here every day. I don’t mind the wind at all, but I think my road competes for top spot in that regard.

Can you tell us about your recent release, Wildest Dreams?

It’s a carefully selected group of songs that go together as an album and reflect my true and wildest dreams, some of which border on the odd nightmare (see: Sweet Sue, Feather Boa) but inside each song is a dream I’ve had in the past that has revealed itself to come to fruition. Like all truly wild things, these things know how to hibernate, be simple and just be. ‘Wild’ is a tricky word often overused/used incorrectly.  I’ve chosen it on purpose because of its multiple interpretations. Motherhood for instance is a common dream for some but a “wild” one for someone like me to realize, and is reflected in this body of work. Inside scoop – the title of the album ‘Wildest Dreams’ is the title of a song I chose not to include on the album but will release at a later date. It was fully produced! It is an indie-pop number that stands on its own, but doesn’t reflect my “Wildest Dreams” as a notion. It instead chews over the regret of having gone after dreams in the first place and the possible unforeseen consequences of that. “You, me, we, we get what we deserve. I have let it run away with me the wildest of the wildest dreams” sings the chorus. Americans I’m told speak in hyperbole, but these here Wildest Dreams are what I have, and what I’m made of, plain as can be.

Any shout-outs for the contributors?

Ben Seal is a genuine boss of a producer with a magnificent studio at the Elm in Fife.  He gave me the extra mile all the time and reeled in my perfectionism and neurosis with humor and tact, which is no easy feat. To boot, he’s an authentic creative and plays a lot of different instruments as well. It was more than fun for us to spend time together coming up with ideas and making them happen quickly.  With someone this smart in the recording/cutting/mixing room, it’s easy to be spontaneous and experimental. It’s a necessary quality in a producer for me, and he nails it. His donning of colorful jumpers will keep you on your toes as much as he will.

Dr. Dirk is a fiddler of the highest caliber who can play a lot of styles with authentic reverence. More importantly perhaps, he has an editing ear and the decency to just play the right and needed part when accompanying a vocalist. Dirk has an experimental approach in learning, but a delicate sensitive touch and a true sense of song. It’s rare for a lot of players and I try to do my best to let him have at it sometimes. He’s patient and kind, “gently assertive” a fellow musician said recently, but I’d further that by saying he’s not playing for himself, he’s tapping into something much deeper. I consider him a civil servant to ‘the cause’, a rather noble one. We aren’t tired of each other yet somehow.

Joel ‘Joey’ “Jello” my bass player is also a dear friend and I feel he deeply understands the heart of my music. He’s playful, fun, and chock full of ideas.  The music I write requires a lot of space and listening, but it also requires a strong ability for my instrumentalists to improvise and write parts of their own and he does this very well. I love writing things with Joey in mind, always interested in what he comes up with. We work well together and I enjoy traveling with him. I would be hard pressed to see a better accomplice in a room full of interesting strangers miles away from home.

I heard Jello has an unusual instrument, can you tell us about it & what does it sound like?

Yes, Joey made his own bass in Canada with some grant money from Creative Scotland and it’s been a game changer. I asked him to say a few words about it –

Jellobelly couldn’t carry on trying to play cello and double bass at the same time for much longer. Things were getting desperate. Then Eddy Spoons turned up some ancient Silver Maple and Otis said “Sure. Come and make your crazy instrument with me in my workshop in Cape Breton”. And so, ‘The Beast’ was born…and she was called J-llo…..part cello, part double bass, 100% JelloBass.”

And lastly, Iona Lee did the artwork and album design. She’s an incredibly talented poet, muse and illustrator.  I highly recommend her work, her pamphlets and new book coming out. Iona is funny, poignant and very needed right now as a voice on the scene.

Your son plays a part on the album too – how did that transpire?

I am so proud of Harlen.  More and more often I catch him teaching himself something on his own without my prompting by Bo Burnam or the Gorillaz, Nirvana,  and even recently, our favorite Chilly Gonzalez, and “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin. Surprises never cease and I think I’m over a decent hump with him. I can only hope he’s got ‘the itch’. We hope he grows to know it’s the best video game on earth, no screen needed, and a friend for life. I try to tell him – as I tell you all now – if it’s not hard going, even just a little bit, it’s probably not worth doing. Now work that left hand.

How do you balance motherhood with creating such a prolific & poetical wealth of beautiful music?

I don’t. I am robbing Peter to pay Paul every day. I manage because I have a nurturing competent husband who cooks, cleans and cares for our son with exceptional thought and skill. It doesn’t hurt he’s a musician who understands a specific kind of burnout we face and is accustomed to a more radical lifestyle. We live a fairly eccentric life to most, and inevitably extreme “imbalance” happens. I could perhaps be proud of being both a mother and musician all at once, but I don’t really feel that I have a choice in the matter. To me, it would be like being proud of freckles, or big hands or anything else that is involuntary. I am definitely both a musician and a mother, and both suffer because I am the other. I have this phenomenon in common with all other muso-mamas I know who (all that I can think of ) are married to fellow musicians for good reason. It requires intimate understanding. It can be a bit lonely sometimes to turn around as a songwriter-come-mother and realize you are nearly alone out there, as a species.  We do need a lens with which to look at the issue because it’s clear many specific women’s voices and stories aren’t being heard in the numbers they could be. I believe thisgenuinely disadvantages us all. Unfortunately, the burden of having this conversation rests on the shoulders of already fairly busy women.

You have a secret gig coming up – are you allowed to tell us anything about it at all?

Nope, I’m not allowed – the mystery shall remain! But my lovely new label “New Teeth” (Leith) records will be hosting another release in January, and when Emma Briely’s animation for “Catfish Friend” is finished, another local one, I’m sure.

How is 2023 looking for you so far?

I’ll be doing lots and lots of recording starting with finishing a grant in January/Feb for Creative Scotland awarded in the pandemic to record a reflective album of the experience using some new tools. I’ll also be finishing an album for Delightful Squalor, my passion project with Lake Montgomery, fellow ‘merican from Texas. The Half Moon Medicine Show will be happening here and there no doubt, stay tuned! And then comes summer time with its festival season to keep us busy. I’ve always got my Jazz Bar showcase on every Friday 6:15-8:30 where I host some of Scotland’s finest and most unique musicians, songwriters, enchantresses and wizards in the business, unless I’m on the road. I know that I will be writing new things, and taking myself on a retreat. I finally got my driving license in the UK, so I’m able to take on more independent work, which is very exciting and long overdue.


www.ceraimpala.com

The Illicits


The Hug & Pint, Glasgow
07/12/2022


It is clear Blackburn has two extremely different quality of youth systems. The first of these, the football academy at Blackburn Rovers, is clearly not very good – I mean, the way their first team was pumped at Turf Moor by the mighty Clarets last Armistice Day to an Ashley Barnes double & a cool side-foot finish from Zourary was emphatic. Top of the league, mind the gap, n’all that. In stark contrast, however, is that banging ebullient band of youthful charm & cool locally, & ever-wider-growingly, call’d the Illicits.

Sign’d on the spot to Alan McGee’s Creation 23 Label, they do feel rather Oasisey, & last night, as I watch’d them in the slightly austere, fairly small, but acoustically proud cellar-cloisters of the Hug & Pint on the Camdenesque Great Western Road in Glasgow, surrounded by a fairly young studenty audience, I was whisked back to my own 18th year, in 1994, when I saw Oasis play at TJs a week after they releas’d Supersonic. Lancashire & its unique, but ever-deadly approach to Rock & Roll, was back on tour.

The Illicits are a four-piece – a wild wee guitarist (Brad Hayes) who pull’d a supercool pose with every chord & sent his hyperactive jangling-spanging fingers all over the shop; a bass-player (Joe Mitchell) who started quite statuesque but revv’d up with the playing & passing of each punchy song; a drummer who was not their normal drummer I think, but drove a really aggressive beat; & an ultimately unique singer (George Richards) on rhythm guitar. His brash melodic shouting, like a yelling crooner, is one of the most original voices I’ve ever heard, except for the Vicious/Strummer sections of the set (such as Left Behind)- which were just pure punk & a real tonic to the more indier moments.

They play’d ten songs – two of which I’d listen’d to on repeat when first encountering the possibility of seeing the band – In What World & Feel It -, each of which opened the two halves of the ten-song set. A proper guitar band, they all play’d Gibsons & the sound was epic, especially Brad’s lead guitar which was drench’d with atmospheric sonic effects in a way no-one really does anymore – nice one our kid! Eye of the Storm was baggy as fuck, with its hypnotic hook-lyric, ‘in the eye of the storm / I won’t be alone,’ while new release ‘Come of Age’ & the tune after it ‘Play Your Part’ had magnificent jammy endings. I also loved again the middle-eight on ‘Feel It,’ which summon’d the spirits of Lennon/McCartney & Donavon into a magic wee cauldron of melody & chord changes.

A great shout out to the Scottish Musical Collective, a new enterprise that fill’d a brilliant Illicit-topp’d bill, which unfortunately I miss’d out on, but feeling the buzz in the room I’d like to check out another of their gigs. I got talking to the organiser who explain’d how his mate had met the band at a festival in Spain & that’s why they were all the way up this far north. But fair credit to this ripe bunch of tripe-guzzling, vowel-extending Lancashire lads – they’ve come all this way on a Wednesday & pull’d off a stormer. So all, good all round.

Track nine was the amazingly anthemic ‘Next Generation’ – ‘you are the next generation, you wanna be me, you wanna be free’ – which I think would be a smash hit with an accompanying female vocalist. Praise to George, like, he does all the singing in his tod, but every now again I think as Reni rais’d the Roses, he could do with a little boost to flesh out a tune.

The climax of the set was a cover of Born Slippy – think Oasis chucking in I Am the Walrus in ’94 -, which everyone totally buzz’d off & show’d a certain musical side to the band which could possibly one day manifest in a Screamedelica-esque rebranding of the band’s sound. But first of course, we’ll have a Definitely Maybe, then perhaps a London Calling, & perhaps in the middle of all that the true sound of these burgeoning, blossoming beauties will emerge.

Damian Beeson Bullen

Blancmange


Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
December 2nd, 2022


If you can see past the daft clobber and mullets the early Eighties was a fertile period for UK music.

1981, Bucks Fizz win the Eurovision Song Contest and Joe Dolce’s ‘Shad uppa ya face’ reaches the top of the hit parade.

But coming up on the rails…

Number 2 in the then relevant charts is Ultravox classic ‘Vienna’

Bizarre Records release ‘Some Bizarre Album’ a compilation of proto electronica featuring Depeche Mode The The Soft Cell and tonights Chief Rockers ‘Blancmange’.

Seminal bit of plastic

Formed in Harrow in 1979 by Lancashire lad Neil Arthur with multi instrumentalist Stephen Luscombe ‘Blancmange’ hovered around the periphery of the New Romantic scene supporting Japan (Ghosts, what a tune) and troubling the charts on a few occasions notably with 1982 release ‘Living on the Ceiling’. (London Records)

Mr Arthur kept at it when the foppery of the era fell out of fashion. Touring recording releasing and evolving.

Here he rocks up in Edinburghs Liquid Rooms with a tight three piece to promote latest Album ‘Private View’

After 43 years in the biz you know how to boss a stage and the somewhat aged crowd agree.

The back catalogue is run out in good order and the new material kicks in nicely with this latest of the many of the bands incarnations. Pulsing synths, anthemic vocalising and a flat out Can style human drum machine turn by the drummer on a drum pad a kick drum and a pair of Forrest Hills.

The top end Liquid Rooms sound system is in full effect with in house and touring engineers at the controls.

A pilled up gay club in Salford and this set would have kicked like fuck

Giorgio Moroder meets David Byrne with a Roland SH101 at the PSV.

Studio SB

The Soundhouse Choir & Guests


Queens Hall, Edinburgh
Saturday 26th November, 2022


The Soundhouse Choir, found its origins in 2016, when Heather Macleod, a singer, teacher, arranger and producer. Began The Soundhouse Choir Project, which has continued to grow, with its heart in the Edinburgh community, with an ethos of inclusion and give it a go spirit. Everyone is heard and music is made. Soundhouse Choir’s ripple effect of well-being and positive energy flows far beyond the rehearsal room or the stage. The experience is an exciting and creative joy ride; a choir for all voices, driven by dynamism, professionalism, good humour and musical inspiration. It has the heart of a community choir and the soul of a big band.

Tonight’s performance is a fundraiser for The Soundhouse Choir Project, with all profits going to fund their championing of live music.
The theme of the concert is inspired by Fair Saturday. The day after Black Friday, thousands of artists and cultural organisations around the world get together in a unique festival and support social causes through their event. The global Fair Saturday movement’s aim is to promote social inclusion, kindness and sharing.

Fair Saturday places art and culture at the centre of society. In these uncertain times, it is more necessary than ever to acknowledge the work of artists and cultural and social organisations and to support their work so they can continue to create and generate a positive impact.The Queen’s Hall is proud to have been a supporter of the initiative since 2018.

Presented by The Queen’s Hall and the Soundhouse Organisation
As I took my seat for this evening of groundbreaking musical excellence the ambience of The Queens Hall relaxed me, the stage bathed in a beautiful blue light and with a capacity audience in collective excitement and anticipation of what was to come. The enormous in numbers and talent, Soundhouse Choir took to the stage. Introduced and directed by Heather Macleod The Queen’s Hall was filled with vocal harmony with beautiful renditions of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Starting Over, followed by Moloko’s “Sing It Back With Inge Thomson on electronic treatments, Keyboards and beautiful vocals taking the lead for the final song from this art house massive, Anise Pearson joined the collective as The Queen Of Harps, to deliver a beautiful piece called Fractured Hearts, dedicated her late Mum, Heidi Exquisitely moving, angelic harmonies of musical grace.

As the choir left the stage. sparsity became the setting. with Phil Bancroft on Saxophone, and Graeme Stephen on guitar. Tom Bancroft on drums providing a fusion of Jazz-tinged genius and poetic magic by Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery. Performing her epic poem, “Edinburgh” the audience were totally soaking up this cultural fix, which led us to the interval.

The performance’s second half kept the experimental Jazz flowing with a different fusion. this time with beautiful Gaelic renditions of songs performed by the amazing Kathleen MacInnes, This was a deeply moving night of explorative avant-garde entertainment. Totally gripping from start to finish.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Mickey 9s


Room 2, Glasgow
25/11/22


If Cumbernauld was a rosebush then Mickey 9s would be its sexiest, sugariest specimen of bloom; a flowering juggernaut of contagious quality that makes you just fuckin’ glad to be there. I’d seen them once before & was blown away by their turbo disco funk in a gold lame suit, but last night had a completely different feel. It was pure 21st century rock n roll, & you really didn’t need to be a fan to be swept up in the seething adulation of the moment. These guys exist in the secret realms where buzzin’ meets brilliance; & every song, every riff, every lyric, every note, drips with a confident & ethereal sublimity.

It’s the Mumble’s main mission for the foreseeable to cut a hot knife thro the bubbling blue brie of Caledonian cantari, so just who are Mickey 9s? Let’s just say they are punkishly political to the groove of bass & beat, & can bang out some slick videos. I’ll put a couple in this review for folk to peruse. Their origin myth saw four school friends go to a Daft Punk gig, returning from which explosion of music & groove compell’d them to craft their own vison – & what a treat it is to behold.

Coming on stage to Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer,’ the dance floor soon erupted into a magical mosh-pit of merriment, with the mysterious ‘St Cool’ infesting the vibe with his shamanic, hypnotic, kinetic front-manniness. Wearing eye make-up, all the women thought him hot as fuck & all the men rush’d off home to get their guy-liners out.

Mickey 9s are exciting, electrifying, energizing, & a load of other superlatives beginning with ‘e’ that means you don’t actually have to pop one. Their best tune for me, & clearly a lot of other devotees, went something along the lines of ‘whats rang wi me,’ a euphoric blast of supercool that’s still rattling round mi ‘ed as a type. An excellent gig, which Room 2 should be prais’d for facilitating… Scotland should be proud of Mickey 9s.

Words: Damian Beeson Bullen
Photos: Teri Welsh

Lyra


Supporting Westlife
Glasgow Hydro
20/11/2022


I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Westlife, me, as have millions over other people it seems, mainly the ladies of course, & thus, as the second fresh-faced leg of their ‘Wild Dreams’ tour rock’d into Scotland, they’d easily sold out the epic Hydro for a whole weekend. Melodic companions to people’s lives, ‘the lads’ are there for the good moments, & the sad. They do have some funky numbers, definitely, & a smart selection of get-yer-standing cover songs, but I wasn’t actually there for them (deep down I prefer’d Take That myself), I wanted to check out Ireland’s up & coming number female solo singer, Lyra.

I’m having a bloody ball
Lyra

Jeesh, this girl can sing, & its absolutely amazing how she goes from her moving & dramatic Enyasque operatics, to the chirpy tween-song patter of a Cork lass having a crack in the pub. On one occasion it was a bit hankies out almost, when she gave us a brief nugget of wisdom from her mam saying, if she was the best version of herself she would have nothing to apologise for. That is some ‘grand’ bardic thinking there, like, & it clearly work’d as whatever version of Lyra we have today, if its not her best version it’s pretty damn close cos she’s a wonderful performer. She totally owns her gifts.

You’ll know a lot more about me by the end of the night, I swear to God
Lyra

It was great to see her on a massive stage too – her cinematic images flanking the massive font-phalanx of her name, & watching her sing is a real pleasure. She totally means it, like. It’s nice to see someone so good on her ascendency, & next April she’ll be doing her first headline tour, a thoroughly exciting proposition. Of the songs – more disco-art to tell you the truth – I enjoy’d the most last night, her opener We Are Beautiful set the tone for a splendid set, in which her stunning New Day shone absolute divinity & Falling is pure, well, her, the song that encapsulates her voice & inner groove perfectly.

You’re gonna have a belter of a night with the lads
Lyra

There was also this cool song about chess, a strange subject to sing about, but it work’d & show’d she’s capable of the originality needed in the competitive quest for musical success. So roll on 2023, when she should really blossom into the public consciousness. Singing to all the Westlife fans en route would definitely have help’d that process.

Words: Damian Beeson Bullen
Photography: Stella Murphy

Upsahl


King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
Glasgow, 20/11/22


Last night I witness’d the rebirth of a dungaree-clad, amazing looking, sandpaper-glam Venus, rising gloriously from her oyster shell singing all manner of bangin’ tunes. It was Upsahl’s first ever day in Scotland on her ‘This Is My First Headline Tour’ tour, & I was swiftly moulded into groove-crunching appreciation by the drama play’d out before me. She is a cut above, like, & supported by just a drummer & a guitarist – gutsy groove machines in their own right – & sometimes picking up a bass or a guitar herself, the comblended sound is that of an epic flight of eagles.

Each delicious fruit from her song carousel is carv’d from the magma of a very poetical mind, which has then cool’d into the miasmic memories of everyone in last night’s audience. It was a massive sing-a-long, & as I popp’d my Upsahl cherry I began mouthing some of the words myself here & there, so sorcery-like is her chaunt.

It’s very simple – it’s you, it’s us, & we’re going the fuck off
Upsahl

Sometimes delicate, sometimes dropping gardy loos on us ‘eds, she’s got very trick in the book up her sleeve, & a few I’ve never seen before, to keep us all enthrall’d on her tigervibes. I’ll be honest, I’d seen a couple of over-produc’d videos, & they came across a little twee, & the songs were nothing amazing I thought at first – but her live performance, woah, that is some arcane ethereality that, it’s like taking ketamine at Valhalla with the top dog Valkyrie or summat, her performance is so powerful. If this is her headline tour, she has definitely found her niche, perhaps even her true sound, as I’m sure the live versions were different, edgier, more important.

The crowd was about eighty percent female, & while we’re on numbers I’d say her set is already seventy percent classics, & a couple more albums to fill in the gaps & she’s gonna be massive. There are some genius bolts of brilliance in there, damn straight. I’ve embedded my faves from the night in the review, & as we were boinging along I was asking their names off this sound barmaid from Airdrie to my right who knew every syllable of every song, like. I’m like, ‘she’s really good int she,’ & she just smil’d at me back with a warm & wonderful welcome to the familyness.

She’s just got that thing, she’s just got it
Teri Welsh

The love Upsahl was feeling from the room, well this Glasgow room at least, should be enough to propel our bardic beauty to some proper dizzy heights. Its like we all wanted her to be brilliant, because she is. I also noticed the way the lassies, as they sang along, would sometimes tighten their nostril muscles, & energetically squidge them into their faces as they mimick’d certain clearly fibre-grinding lines.

That was one cheeky fuckin’ vixen rave, that – well I certainly l enjoy’d myself, & the encore confirm’d her stunning stars ascendency, coming back on stage with a ‘Scotland, we aint fuckin’ done yet, every fucking one of you channel whatever energy you have left & find you inner lunatic,’ leading very elegantly to her last track…

Words: Damian Beeson Bullen
Photography: Teri Welsh

Stanley Odd / Psweatpants


Room 2, Glasgow
18/11/22


Room 2, Glasgow, a proper gigging venue. Three quid lagers? Fuckin’ brilliant! This is a place to both enjoy yourself, & be musically educated at the same time, capturing the quintessence of what a live venue should be all about. David Blair’s the main man, running a tight ship as always, & showcasing some of the Central Belt’s finest talent. Last night was all about Hip-Hop; two acts, one fresh-fac’d, one establish’d. First up was Psweatpants – London born, but up in Glasgow now, doing his thing & clearly enjoying himself.

Nominated for this year’s best hip hop act by SAMA, his music has a massively serious bent, which is a complete contrast to the happy patter in between his songs, when he radiates an ebullient ‘joy to be here’ rarely seen on a hip-hop stage. A proper fun ride, at times it felt like I was in my 20s again, Road Raging down the Lea Bridge Road into Hackney for a night out at some squat rave in some industrial unit somewhere, so was the proper evocative atmosphere that Psweatpants had effortlessly produced.

It had been a fairly short set, & with the second act, SHEARS, pulling out thro’ Covid, the night’s main eventers, Stanley Odd, got a chance to do well over an hour of their harmonious fusion of ninja lyrics & bouncing beats. “Scottish as fuck!” beam’d one of their newest fans – they’ve been going since 2009 -, Keiran from Galashiels. He’d seen the Stanley supporting his mate’s band down Gala & was blown away. Saw them again a couple of weeks ago, was blown even more away, & so got a hotel in Glasgow last night for the sole reason of seeing them in action.

Scottish hip-hop is pretty niche, like. Over in America, its practically woven into the national DNA, but the UK has always loved its guitar bands more, pushing hip-hop to the fringes. But, as I watch’d Stanley Odd – who were using geetahs, drums, bass & keyboards actually, but were singing hip-hop, – I was genuinely saying to myself these should be in the mainstream, somewhere. Alas, no, but they do create an extremely talented sound worthy of success. They are also loyal to their musical bones, & just do their easy vibes velocity thing so well, & they love it too, so in the end all is good!

He’s like my best mate who just learnt how to rap & is on a stage – its like I grew up with him: Kieran Robson – latest Stanley Odd superfan

There was a healthy, mixed, aficionado crowd for both acts, & I got the feeling that there were many true fans in the crowd. especially when I actually dared to have a small conversation with Keiran about the intricacies of the keyboard sound & this nobhead in front of me turns around with a face as if a bulldog chewing a wasp had been stuck up its own arse & piped, ‘can you be quiet & listen to the band, show some fuckin’ respect.’ Proper funny & proper partisan.

There were moments of blinding brilliance, proper catchy choruses & elegant songcraftery. I especially loved the tune which went, ‘well that’s my life innit,’ & the one about a witch in the kitchen – see video -, real slick stuff, boys. The aforemention’d covid-hit SHEARS, is normally a co-vocalist with the band, but the singer, Solareye, carried the torch himself, & as a newcomer to the group I knew no different. I did leave thinking if they were that good without her, what would they be like with her? I guess I’m gonna have to join Keiran’s fledgling roving fan club & find the fuck out.

Words: Damian Beeson Bullen
Photography: Raymond Mundito O’neill