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OOTB 310 – 17 July 2008

For now, last week’s review. Rob himself pens the first three acts, before
handing over to the anarchic Nyk Stoddart. Enjoy.
OOTB 310 – 17 July 2008
Gordon Imrie, Cate McDonald, Broken Tooth, Chris Mossop, Ray Kenny, Ben Young, Calum Carlyle, Tim Holehouse, Robbie Sprout-Cranberry, Johnny & Chris (Two Carved Stones)

Rob pens the first three acts, before handing over to the anarchic Nyk Stoddart. Enjoy.

Gordon Imrie Brings with him the comedy heckler of the night, but more on that later… ‘Homesick’ was written half here, half in Oz, and benefits from seeing it from both sides. Lovely observations of the little things that change, or don’t, from travelling, My brother will be 10inches taller, and he’ll tell me he could have me, and I’ll tell him not to bother  . On his second, ‘Broken Bones’, the jaunty tune clashes (effectively, I think) with the harsh subject matter of a dying relative, and I ask you, are you scared? You say you’re terrified.   His last, ‘Cheerio’, tells of a break-up in progress, Will you miss our pantomime?   It’s told with satisfying bile. This is the best set I’ve seen from him, great stuff.

Cate McDonald

Ethereal ‘oohs’ (from Cate, that is) beckon in her first, ‘One foot in my grave’. Taking a familiar premise, of wasting our own time and potential, and raising it with good lyrics: Got my teeth sunk into the hand that feeds me.   Cate still seems panicked on stage, but more visits should sort that. ‘Return to exile’ is about returning to a home country that doesn’t feel very homely anymore. More of a lament than objection, it’s come creeping. It’s just a shame that it did.   It’s OK, though, she’s back now. ‘Djembe Man’ is billed as a Dylan tribute (d’you get it?), but I doubt Dylan came up with such fine chords. Good stuff.

Broken Tooth I though this first one was called ‘Who da man?’ Turns out it’s called ‘Hoodoo Man’, but I’m not sure which I prefer, the first certainly suits him. Got a mean old hell hound  , he sings. Cerberus been pissing on his trousers again? (Which classics geeks got that one?) ‘Title Song’ is his best by far because he actually injects some personality. I saw him play this with weird time signatures once, and hope he does so again at some point, it really lifts the song. He can overcook the vox a bit sometimes, a bit of balance would help, but on this one, it’s good. ‘Hold Fast’ mixes the nautical, have faith in old timber  , with the Biblical, They write [their message] out with blood and sword.   Funny mix, but he’s got ambition. And now we hand you over to our outside broadcast unit. Nyk Stoddart takes up the story… The ghost of Calum Haddow stalks these corridors (well, this bar anyway) – infecting all souls wiv a reverie bordering on lunacy. Unfortunately i have become one of his victims, and now must bear the mark of the insane…it’s all his fault (apart from me own lunacy of course) A wee competition: How many random phrases can you find in this review ? The prize will be the social stigma of admitting you were looking for them…good luck!

Chris Mossop Not sure if i’ve seen him before, so apologies for not remembering. His performances was assured wiv catchy and very streamlined, focused songs. ‘Blue Moon’ ‘How can i possibly resist when i have friends like this’ he states in his song about drinking and stuff in South-West Scotland. Apparently. Ba da la la la la etc. That’s what comes of not having a backing band wiv you…one need’s to vocalise the other instruments! ‘Step by step’ Poppy and catchy with nice handmuting techniques & unusual chordings. Sounds like the music could take off if electrified (i mean by electric guitar obviously!) ‘My little protest’ Strangely this song reminds me of the Waterboys. A most tight, well-performed song.

Ray Kenny Remember Kenny Ball and his jazz band ? yeh, well i do…can’t fink of anything mair witty to say so i’ll just murmur somefink aboot the songs… ‘Life’ ‘Slowly i’m slippin…living for today…Turn back time…everything was OK…we must carry on’ states Ray…nice lyrics…memorable tune that had everyone enraptured, or somefink wiv a similar metaphor type thing. ‘Soul searching’ Seems to be about the desire for fame and the trappings thereof – with a nice central riff, with handmuting (maybe this is an indie thing, it seems to be catching on) Elephants make good skateboarding champions. ‘Star in the clouds’ The central riff seems familiar, with a hendrixy tinge. ‘Wall of sound’ About a performance that didn’t go down too well, in his opinion – although his stuff sounds good to me. Could be me old cloth ears, but i couldn’t make out his words too clearly though, which is a shame as there has obviously been a lot of love and care put into his lyrics. ‘Don’t stop clapping’ he says encouraging the audience to participate, which is what it’s all about innit ?

Ben Young I’ve been looking forward to a performance from this personage for some time, as he is one of me favourites – and for good reason…Like Calum Carlyle (who plays next) he is a seriously impressive guitarist, with a fluid playing style that complements his subtle songwriting abilities. ‘Drown’ Evocative wiv witty lyrics, modal chordings and fluid playing. Ben states: ‘I know you don’t say much when you’re having one of your days…that don’t bother me much’ – this song, like many of his, infuses jazzy stuff wiv blues (or i could say something more erudite but i won’t!) ‘Daniel Cuchamber rip-off’ Ben states that Africa is the birthplace of the blues, specifically Malawi, but strangely this song seems to be about his old headmaster (or maybe my 15th pint was starting to take effect – only joking – 12.507391th pint – metric of course!) ‘These are your halcyon days…this is a lie he’s paid to sell…’ Nice wan Benny. ‘Battle of the bands’ is one of me faves, with some truly moving/lovely chordings. A bitter rant at the futility of the cosmos – but mainly about these lame ‘Battle of the bands’ competitions where a ‘singer thinks he has a chance’ but horribly, ‘no-one will remember what you’ll play’ – especially as most acts are ‘…singing… with nothing to say’. He quips to the audience at one point ‘no recording here – it’s copyrighted’. Overall, a brilliant set from one of Edinburgh’s finest performers. Come back soon! or more often! please! etc.

Calum Carlyle Another one of my favourite performers – currently on tour with Tim Holehouse,starts wiv an instrumental entitled ‘ridiculously long introduction’ (ridiculously long title mair like!) Like Ben Young before he is a seriously impressive guitarist, with a fluid playing style that complements his subtle songwriting abilities. ‘Walking through the shallows’ taken, apparently, from the gospel of Luke in the bibble (yes, i spell it like that!) which was apparently written when he was 14. Impressive parrots. ‘Living proof’ A very funny wee song. All about hippies. ‘I’m living proof…that you can be a hippy and still look good’, which was heard in a pub apparently (didn’t know hippies went to pubs, thought it was coffee houses, and places wiv dodgy catering) ‘They might not have the answers…but at least they look good’ ’nuff said. ‘The sound of falling in love at first sight’ has always been one of me fave disco-calypso pieces, and turns into more of a comedy performance when a member of the audience answers his mobile phone during the song: Calum sings ‘When i saw you in the morning…’ (very beautifully) ‘not much mate, yourself ?’ says the bloke on his mobile as he leaves. Great comic timing. Genius.

Tim Holehouse ‘Vessels that sail in the night’ has mellowed arpeggios ‘as the waves crashed down’, which has a nice melodic lifting thingy –  wiv slurry, but evocative vocals. ‘Wild horses’ – not the famous Stones song but a song about youth & how it passes away and makes you feel crap after you reach your 30s etc. Strange, i felt that way when i was 90 – but that’s just me i guess! ‘Young and so free’ ‘We were like wild horses’ sings Tim. This isn’t a reference to the famous Stones song (although i suspect he probably likes it) He also sings that ‘all these days are gone’. He finishes us off by introducing some muso jokes for the audience: ‘How do you get a muso off your porch ? Pay for the pizza’. How we laughed. His last song is a paean to the great Kerouac novel ‘On the road’, oddly enough, entitled ‘On the road’ which reminds me of Leonard Cohen for some reason…without the hat, advanced years, fake frenchness & general air of misery obviously…

Robbie Sprout-Cranberry The ‘voice of an angel’ compere of the night introduces himself…it’s explainable as he’s a clone of himself, therefore there’s two of him…but only one can be concussed by hitting the back of his neck… I didn’t get the title of the first song as his voice suddenly became too soft for microphones to pick up…This set is meant to be a sampler for his feature slot next week… He sings ‘Out of sight or so you thought…i saw you cry the day he died’ and ‘You curse his name…but your embrace tells another tale’. This person, Rob, did this happen after they died? does this person embrace dead people? Please tell me it is so ! Weird. ‘One day soon’ The song starts wiv the interesting and evocative lyric ‘this is going to be a bit louder, Dave…’ which Dave? Is this a metaphor? And for what? This song has fluent jazzy playing wiv a more up-tempo mood…like all the best songs it sounds familiar, but isn’t…Rob is fantastic when he lets rip and sings louder, wiv a more soul edge..The false ending to this song also has a familiar feel… ‘F**k it, let’s do it’ states Rob before launching into his heavy-metal classic ‘The Father’, which is also a semi-poem…’Quietly he takes a scalpel…’ Then his personal heckler pipes up ‘f**king cracking night by the way…’ Rob is a superb talent, subtle of beard and of voice, his jazziness confounds those that expect the expected – AND he’s headlining 24th July…so don’t miss it…or else! Enough soundbites for your myspace now Rob ? hehehe…

Johnny & Chris There’s two of them… ‘Bigger things’ written on the night of their last performance (maybe i should say previous performance? last sounds so, er…fatalistic) ‘it’s the whisky in the water that makes it worth the drink’ great line. nonsensical idea. Water doesn’t get you drunk, obviously…..although it would be cheaper! ‘put a bullet in your gun & hide behind the door…so you can shoot me in the back and call it a war…’ which reminds me of James Taylor. Nice harp. In ‘Don’t you dare’ the other bloke takes up the vocals, which has a more mediative feel. ‘On fire’ has the lyrics ‘Don’t fool yourself you’re still the underdog’ – an optimistic reality-check, apparently. Calum Haddow likes stapling fings. Well, Hecklers, clones and Dalek porn aside, this was a mellow end to a varied and interesting evening at OOTB. And probably my last ever review (hurrah!) Meanwhile back in reality…the US government murders people in the middle east to get catchy news headlines & lots of oil, people starve to death in poor countries because most of us are more interested in watching ‘Big Brother’ than doing anything about it, oh and we’ve elected a load of complete tits to ruin our country, and our prime minister is an Aberdonian. [Kirkcaldy, actually, but that was probably the joke, ed] Yes! we’re THAT stupid! Goodnight, this was Nyk And now the weather…well, rain of course!

Review: Rob Sproul-Cran & Nyk Stoddart; Compere: Rob Sproul-Cran

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