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Out of the Bedroom 666 review – Thursday 5th April 2018

Running order: Jim Bryce, Euan Glasgow, Pink Kudu, Impossible Songs, Bill Phillip, The Old Town Rambler, Suzanne Dyson, Michael, Skip the Android, Savona, Ali Tod, feature act: Scott Candlish.

Was 666 a spooky or otherwise cursed night for OOTB? Not at all, simply a terrific evening of old and new performers and a wide range of musical styles making for a very fine April evening.

Host for the evening was Jim Bryce who warmed us up with ‘Rap 2’. Using a backing track, I interpreted this as old school rap by which I mean scat singing à la the legendary Ella Fitzgerald. Along with the music hall backing, Jim treated us to a very fine jig during the instrumental break! There is no one quite like the unique treasure that is Jim Bryce.

Euan Glasgow made his debut this evening playing his banjo. ‘Fat Nine’ featured a strummed banjo – not something you hear that often – and was a song about Vietnam. I think this was about the drug trade in modern day Vietnam rather than the ‘60s/’70s wartime era with the line “half a pound of skag” being mentioned. The Scottish accent rang through very pleasantly. ‘Shady Grove’ was a traditional song, based on the folk song ‘Matty Groves”. Euan performed this with passion and, though not an original, we allowed it in as a “trad arr”.

The second OOTB debut of the evening came from Pink Kudu (also known as James). This was his fourth open mic performance ever – all four taking place this week! Pink Kudu, playing an electric Fender, wrote his first song of the evening six months ago when coming to Uni. It was an ethereal number, as was ‘Papa Bless’ which was pleasantly arranged and featured some nice guitar playing. The guitar part of his final song reminded me of James Hurley’s song ‘Just You’ in the TV series ‘Twin Peaks’ and the overall effect reminded me of peak ‘90s Mercury Rev. Pink Kudu sung this song in the high point of his range and it suited him well. Three songs – short and sweet.

Tonight was the very welcome return of Impossible Songs to the Out of the Bedroom stage after a hiatus of approximately ten years! ‘How I Hate’ featured trademark picking from John and soft, almost breathy, vocals from Ali. I interpreted the sheer melancholy in the lyric “it’s all over” as a cathartic ode to their OOTB long absence – back with a bang! John said that the guitar riff to ‘Another Day’ was “shamelessly plagiarised” from a ‘60s tune but, as a ‘60s aficionado, it was not obvious to me what the song was. Some nice harmonies – loved it. ‘Happy Like’ was the most mellow song of the set and had a Japanese flavour. Sample lyric: “this boy has no chance with me has he? / happy like kamikaze”. A beautiful vocal from Ali and an excellent use of space.

Poet Bill Phillip recited a couple of new poems. ‘Strike A Chord’ was written about 666, the number of man’s perfection, while listening to a trio in the Jazz Bar. ‘The Teenager’ was a profound piece about a growing up into adulthood but not losing the child.

Another welcome comeback tonight, after just over six months away, came from The Old Town Rambler. ‘Outlaw Blues’, inspired by Euan Glasgow’s banjo tunes, featured some resonant guitar playing and was a deep down, bluesy number. As the ‘Rambler said, this was “about as demonic as it gets for 666”. ‘St. Christopher Songs’ is about travelling and was the first time he’d played this to anyone other than his dogs! Lovely guitar riff, fine harmonica playing and a low baritone vocal led to a very comforting listen. ‘Time Passing By’ was written only a couple of weeks ago and featured some familiar ‘Rambler themes, such as travel. Sample lyric: “like a freight train railway through the night / it’s the sound of time passing by”. Familiar but also different and very pleasant.

Bill Phillip was invited back up for another couple of short poems. ‘Bon Appetito’ was tasty and ‘Learning Difficulties’ was simple, honest and deeply humane.

Before the break, Euan Glasgow played his third song of the evening (sample lyric: “come to the window and look in on me”). Featuring some neat fingering on the banjo, this had a great feel to it.

Suzanne Dyson followed her debut last week with a squashee slot. ‘Let’s Hang Out’ was a riot grrrl song played on acoustic guitar. The endearing feminist slacker lyric, backed by some tricky chords, reminded me of the early ‘90s when I thought we could change the world. I could imagine this with rocking with a full band.

Jim introduced “the venerable” Michael for another great set of songs. ‘Been Here Too Long Blues’ was about a man who had been in prison and was thinking as his “baby”. Nice bit of modulation from the pop master. Next was the gorgeous ‘Butterfly’, about his late wife coming back to see him reincarnated as a butterfly. I tried not to listen too closely to this as there would be a tear in my eye. The sunny ‘Honolulu’ was written in Portobello while imagining a warmer place. A classic rock ‘n roll heart-wrencher which briefly transferred us from the backroom of a pub in Leith to somewhere even more pleasant!

OOTB’s favourite Lithuanian Skip the Android began his set with the haunting ballad ‘Blue Velvet Sky’. I felt this was one of Skip’s best vocal performances – intense with a touch of David Lynch (reflected in the song title?). Sample lyric: “I’ll put some flowers in your hair / the ones you hate so much”. Currently finishing off the recordings for his first album, he played an as-yet-untitled song from it. Opaque lyrics and a mournful vocal, I’d like to hear this one recorded. A final song, another Gothic epic, featured some very fine, dynamic guitar picking and was both enjoyable and mesmerising.

Final debut of the evening came from Savona, a three piece comprising of an electric violin player, a banjo player and a singer / acoustic guitar player. ‘Passover’s Call’ showcased their big, tuneful sound which reminded me of ‘90s pop rockers Cast with violin and banjo. ‘Still Feel’ seemed to be about lost love with the lyric “you still feel for someone”. A harmonica making an appearance. Perhaps their strongest song was ‘Sweetie for a Sweetie’ which had a touch of Mumford and Sons. An upbeat violin part and a poppy banjo, this is a band who could go on to bigger and better things with such a large sound and confident sense of place in music.

It was super to have guitarist Ali Tod back after a few months. Ali has been busy, not least organising the first ever ‘Edinburgh Guitar Night’ for guitar instrumentalists. Ali’s first song ‘Hero’ showcased her jaw-dropping, imaginative guitar playing and flamboyant use of effects pedals. Flamenco guitar, but not as we know it, mixed with a hint of John Barry’s ‘James Bond’ theme – epic! in ‘Tango’, Ali played the guitar as percussion alongside the highly-skilled, dramatic flamenco strumming. Perhaps a bit too rocky to be classed as traditional flamenco, this got the audience going and poet Bill even got on his feet to dance along!

Feature act tonight was Scott Candlish and what a brilliant, consistently enjoyable set this was. ‘Two Feet’ featured some awe-inspiring guitar licks, a very likeable singing voice and a good story about his travels around the world. Next was an untitled song about a tearful goodbye with his parents at the airport in Australia and feeling nervous about the future. ‘Making You Feel Better’ was about settling in to life in Edinburgh – I’m seeing a concept album emerging here! First class playing, singing and songwriting, perhaps showing his Ryan Adams influence most strongly. ‘Monsters’ again showed that Scott is the complete musician with no obvious weakness. This was on his CD ‘Home Away From Home’ on sale this evening (I bought a copy and it’s well worth your money!). ‘Halfway’ was a perfectly-crafted mellow number with a hint of country. ‘Stranger’ was a great set-ender which motored along at a good pace and was sung with gusto. Musicians could learn a lot from Scott and this focused, very professional performance. Begged for an encore, Scott kindly played us ‘Parachute’ which was about giving up a job to become a full-time musician. Scott described the experience as feeling “like a freight train”. As compatriots AC/DC once said, “it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n roll”. This was an awesome performance from start to finish for the fast-emerging talent that is Scott Candlish.

James Igoe

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