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OOTB 301 – 15 May 2008

OOTB 301 – 15 May 2008

Sam Barber, Kate McDonald, Francis Hayes, Peter Michael Rowan, Ms Fi and The MisFits, Bill Ewing, Nyk Stoddart, Norman Lamont, Lorraine McCauley, Stuart Clark, Pip Robinson.

I enjoyed last week’s OOTB300 festivities (and Calum Haddow’s tremendous, surreal review) but how would the comedown be?  The answer is another busy evening and the best Out Of The Bedroom I’ve been to in 2008.

Rob Sproul-Cran, looking exceedingly dapper in his huge purple kipper tie and black shirt with white collar, was compere.  I hadn’t seen Rob play in a long time and his ‘Broken Bones’ was excellent, dark, suspenseful, melancholic and dramatic.  The line I saw you cry, the day he died   sent a shiver down my spine.

Sam Barber is probably one of the more underrated musicians on the scene, particularly noted for his 12-string guitar work.  Sam’s poppy, upbeat song ‘Sophia’ sounded familiar, perhaps like a song by Scouting For Girls. The completely different ‘The Bread Line’ (inspired by Martin Luther King on his t-shirt?) was fierce and political – the bread line splits the world, which side are you on?    ‘I (heart) Edinburgh’, about a love-hate relationship with Scotland’s capital, ended a pleasing set from Mr. Barber.

Kate McDonald made her debut tonight with ‘Wounded’.  One of the first songs she wrote, this was heartfelt, open, and charming.  ‘Silver Lining’ was a critique of America’s foreign policy and was delivered in Kate’s rich, sonorous voice.  ‘Numb Again’ was about loving someone with an addiction, and had a pulsing, incessant quality that I found appealing. For someone born in the USA, Kate was surprisingly quiet and self-deprecating and it wasn’t always easy for me to hear her lyrics as a result.  Hopefully Kate will be back soon and if I’m there I promise to sit closer to the stage!

Francis Hayes was a new voice to me, and what a voice!  It was a rich bass/baritone voice that reminded me a bit of Tim Buckley circa 1973 and local luminary Lee Patterson.  The passionate love song ‘Sunshine Village’ was powerful yet controlled, and ‘Think It Over’ was about a girl leaving town.  ‘Soft-Voiced Woman’ featured Stuart Clark on cajon, and I imagined this performance fitting into Celtic Connections or one of the smaller stages at Glastonbury.  Francis is definitely one to watch out for.

Squashee Peter Michael Rowan answered the call to play something special tonight by breaking one of his own rules never use the words on a sheet   and the main OOTB rule – only play your own songs.  However, the songwriter of ‘Hold Me Tight’ was only 13 and so not old enough to legally play at the Canons’ Gait.  This song was ridiculously mature for a 13-year old and Peter gave as passionate a performance as I’ve seen him give. Peter also promoted Sunday’s Acoustic Idols and the Edinburgh Rush 2008 festival, of which this OOTB event was part.

The headline act of the evening was Ms Fi and The MisFits.  I have known Fiona pretty well for a while so and her development in the last few months has been stunning.  Fiona and the band had a show-stealing performance at the May Secret CDs gig and she now holds the record for CD sales.

With Norman Lamont on bass, Les Makin on keyboards and Karen Austin on backing vocals, the sound was highly sophisticated.  Fiona’s dense, intelligent lyrics, wryly commenting on the ennui and melancholy of modern life, add a curious and unique counterpoint to the light, pleasant, summer sonic backdrop.

The love-hate ‘Edinburgh’ featured a great line about wondering why on earth Spanish girls come to live in Edinburgh, yes why???  The short, snappy ‘Next Room’ was about being alone and hearing a couple copulating in the next room through a paper-thin wall.  ‘Sundays’ was a classic tale of the aforementioned ennui of modern life.  The French-style ‘Moonshine’ featured Norman on ukulele and was simply exceptional with some tremendous harmonies from Karen.  ‘Coffee and Cake’ gave free reign to the amazing musicianship of the band.  ‘Bring on the Dancing Bears’ was an outstanding lyric about the grinding tedium of office work and imagining such things as dancing bears and aliens.  ‘Let Me Down Easy’ is from Fiona’s cracking 4-song ‘Songs from the City of Edinburgh’ CD.

Ms Fi has always had the songs and now she has the stage presence and the band that she deserves.  Without doubt one of the best new Edinburgh bands of 2008, I am a fan!

Bill Ewing flew in all the way from California to attend a wedding. Thankfully Bill decided to drop in to the legendary Out Of The Bedroom beforehand to share his three very romantic songs.  ‘You Kissed Me Twice’ was passionate and celebratory and Bill’s enjoyment in playing this song transmitted good vibrations right through the audience.  His second offering was a gentle composition about not being the perfect man (hey, I know that one too well), while his finale ‘I Do’ was dedicated to the engaged couple in the audience and it was lovely stuff.

The acoustic behemoth   (© Sproul-Cran, R.) Nyk Stoddart was dressed in leather and in charismatic mode tonight like a young Gene Vincent.  Nyk’s wild first track was throbbing and Who-esque and was deliberately played at various speeds (sample lyric: another day, another chance to f**k things up  ).  ‘Retro Space Age’, the green monkeys song, was absolutely rockin’ tonight!  Nyk held a note for what seemed about 20 seconds! ‘Tombstoning’, as voted for by the audience, okay Bill Philip – had that raw, elemental Syd Barrett angst that only Nyk can do.  He managed to medley in ‘Mutant Zombies’ at the end and close the best set I have seen Nyk play in a while.  Keep wearing the leathers Nyk, it’s obviously a kind of superhero costume!

The legendary Norman Lamont played a new song (to me) ‘Sword Of Love’ in his squashee slot.  The combination of Stu Clark accompanying on cajon and Norman’s droll lyrics and catchy chorus was simply awesome.

Francis Hayes won a set of kitchen scales from the silver bag of dreams.

Lorraine McCauley impressed me greatly the last time I saw her play, and she did it again tonight.  Lorraine has a beautiful voice, which she showed on ‘What If?’, a very emotional love song.  ‘Daydreaming’ was dedicated to the man who brought her along to Out of the Bedroom.  I described Lorraine’s voice as smoky, soulful and spellbinding the last time I reviewed OOTB and my opinion has not changed a jot.  The musical poetry of ‘Dancing Round The Floods’ finished the set and Lorraine has improved noticeably even in the short time since I last saw her and I look forward to seeing her play 30 minutes at her OOTB showcase on 5th June.

The mighty Stuart Clark followed with three songs about women  .  The first was ‘Cut To The Bone’ about unrequited love.  Stu has a distinctive songwriting style which is highly rhythmic.  I don’t know how he can sing, play guitar and keep a tambourine going at the same time (practice?  Sure, but could you do it?).  ‘Games’ was about the game of love and was a new song for a female friend.  ‘Till The End’, a big, soppy, wet love song  , was an appropriate song to, erm, end with.  It was great to see Stu in fine form again.

Pip Robinson, debuting tonight, was new on the scene and quickly making her mark.  Pip’s breathy, unspoilt voice conveyed a deep emotional resonance in her first song.  I couldn’t make out the words but it didn’t matter, they were there floating along in the ether with her lovely voice.  ‘Corners’ was simple, direct, sad, strangely joyous, and the refrain please don’t take this dream away from me   was a right heartstrings tugger.  ‘Falling Stars’ was all plucked guitar and wistful melodies and ended a very promising set from young Pippa.  It’s time to take a step outside   said Pip and at 11.15 it was.

A great crowd, an exciting diverse line up, and one of the most enjoyable music nights I’ve attended this year.  Thanks to everyone who made the evening so enjoyable.

Compere: Rob Sproul-Cran Sound: Darren Thornberry, Peter M Rowan Tickets: Bill Philip Review: James Igoe

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