Home » OOTB Reviews » Out of the Bedroom 696 review – Thursday 11th July 2019

Out of the Bedroom 696 review – Thursday 11th July 2019

Running order: Startled Bee, Francisco Cano, Jim Bryce, Conor Riordan, Patrick Steel, Neil Matthew Fox, Nyk Stoddart, Majk Stokes, Michael Steele, Gareth Herron, Ross Neilson, Chris Glen, feature act: SMUT.

James Igoe was host this evening and Chris Glen was on sound desk. Venue was Woodland Creatures.

Startled Bee: ‘The Future’ – a nod to the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, this imagined what the future holds for us in the realm of space travel. “Ticket to the moon / in the future” – it could happen, depending on how long humanity can exist. ‘Winter Moon’ – staying on the moon theme, this was a short love song. An emotive vocal from the ‘Bee, really using his full vocal range, and the sound was heartbreaking. Quality. ‘Take Me’ – another love song, with a Wimbledon theme! Tennis was mentioned in the lyric in this deeply melodic and fabulously well-written song. Gently romantic: “take me for your own / maybe put down your phone?” Nice “oohs” at the end.

Francisco Cano: ‘Innocence’ – all the way from Miami USA, travelling busker Francisco played an unusually-shaped long, thin ukulele with proficiency. Nothing to do with Perry Como (I read his surname wrongly!), this jazzy number, was sung with passion and a sensitivity not often associated with buskers. A political lyric, about children who are “blessed and innocent” while “our troops are marching under the sun”. Some mean harmonica playing, too. ‘California Sun’ – written recently in the Meadows in central Edinburgh, this was a strong, melodic feast for the ears with an expertly-strummed uke. Strong voice – Francisco did not have to be close to the mic for the whole room to hear! Warm, happy music.

Jim Bryce: ‘McCarthy’s Bayou’ – played on acoustic guitar, this song about ‘50s anti-communist paranoia in the USA fizzed with venom. Fiery, jazzy chords. Sample lyric: “sits there in the old rocking chair / with the white dust in her eyes”. ‘Susie’ – a lullaby for a baby who couldn’t sleep at night, written when living in digs in Aberdeen. Some very fine guitar picking on this with, again, a tinge of jazz. Excellent stuff from Jim. You can listen to these newly-released songs on Bandcamp at https://jimbryce.bandcamp.com/.

Conor Riordan: ‘This Love’ – this poem about the ashes of a relationship was the opening to a very welcome return to Conor for his first OOTB performance of 2019. Some excellent similes and rhymes; this was a powerful, political poem. Conor will be performing with Loud Poets at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the Edinburgh Fringe. ‘We’re All In This Together’ – picking up the guitar, this was a compelling lyric about poverty sitting next to wealth in a very wealthy country. Great to hear Conor’s Scouse accent and astonishingly good guitar playing. Hopefully, we’ll see Conor again very soon.

Patrick Steel: ‘Flame’ – a number with hints of classic songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Featuring harmonica, this love song also reminded me of The Waterboys ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ era (re the flame “watch it catch fire / burning for you”). This was Patrick’s OOTB debut, having only arrived in Edinburgh a few months ago. ‘The Old Familiar’ – a political song about a man in a bar voicing his opinions in a bar where he has spent much of his adult life safe in his bigotry. Sample lyric: “the band played ‘Rule Britannia’ / and everyone sings along”. Powerful and primal – folk at its best. 

Neil Matthew Fox: ‘Your Utopia’ – the Dylan influence again strong on this, on the eve of his Hyde Park show. A catchy, memorable song with the chorus “this may be your utopia / but it sure as hell ain’t mine”. ‘Best Left Unsaid’ – a new song from Neil. This was sung in the low end of the register, and Neil’s voice reverberated round the room. First class picking, and lyrics influenced by a Raymond Carver worldview exploring the fringes of society. ‘I Didn’t Know How To Say I Love You’ – about the difficult, knotted, unspoken things that permeate many repressed relationships in the Western world and beyond. Cash-like vocal and a sweet melody. Neil is emerging as one of the best new talents of the year at OOTB.

Nyk Stoddart: ‘The Man With The X-Ray Eyes’ – had a long intro as Nyk forgot the words! ‘Milking It’ – Nyk went swiftly into this minimalist song with some folk-rock theatrics on stage. The audience appreciated the humour, those that “got it” anyway. A short, fun and profoundly musical slot from Nyk. 

Majk Stokes: ‘We Need The Bees’ – Majk has been active in the extinction rebellion movement, where the importance of bees has not been forgotten. Majk got the audience to singalong with the “buzz, buzz, buzz” refrain in a variety of harmonies. A poignant theme delivered with humour; Majk’s speciality.

Michael Steele: ‘Spend Some Time With Me’ – another Steele debut (albeit with an extra “e” in the surname). A classical guitar and a lilting, almost whispering, vocal. Confidently-played with seriousness, this was romantic, honest and vulnerable. The second song reminded me of early Leonard Cohen, with the picking pattern and melody. I loved it! Focussed and intense, this had deep, poetic and evocative lyrics. Sample: “the paper flowers on the table are gathering dust”.

Gareth Herron: ‘Words’ – a new song with a very pleasing, lullaby-like, quality. Showing his romantic side, with the words “I’d throw these words to the wind / if I thought they’d carry to you”. Gareth continued what has been a very high standard of lyric writing showcased this evening. ‘Modern Love Story’ – also new, Gareth used his loop pedal with effortlessness which is impressive as it’s not an easy technology to master. Well-constructed and arranged over a natural-sounding drum machine, this was something of an epic and a welcome addition to Gareth’s collection of love stories. 

Ross Neilson: ‘White Space’ – a new one from his forthcoming album out in a couple of months. Ross’s voice has improved and strengthened as an instrument since his OOTB debut some years ago. A strong Brit Pop influence, with hints of Ocean Colour Scene. One of the best songs I’ve heard from Ross in a while. ‘Ways To Run’ – this aspirational song, from the same album, had a solid lyric and Ross’s song construction was one of the best of the evening. Could have been from an acoustic guitar songbook. The one thing missing was a harmonica solo. Next time?

Chris Glen: ‘Guillotine Blades’ – started with a sad song which mentioned “laying down weapons” but was this cryptic lyric about global war or a personal one? Top quality picking at pace; Chris clearly knows his way around a fretboard as much as a sound desk. A voice pleasing to the ear with some falsetto thrown in. ‘Devil In The Detail’ – about being “in a daze of his own” when he lived in Berlin one summer. Jazzy and, yes, summery this was a happy song like a jolly John Martyn.

Feature act: SMUT. The first part of this evening showcased the hip hop / contemporary R&B style playing to backing tracks on her laptop. The opening two tracks set the scene, being atmospheric and sung wordlessly. SMUT. danced on stage with abandon, tapping into some elemental force with a mesmerising, otherworldly voice. ‘Sugar Cravings’ – made the comparison between the addictions of sugar and hard drugs. Both have an impact on all our lives in some way, either directly or indirectly. The dance routine mapped out the song. ‘Fantasy Material’ – the sophisticated backing track reminded me of early ‘90s acts such as The Orb and Ultramarine. Vignettes of modern life in the lyric, with the refrain “keep giving me fantasy material”. ‘On My Mind’ – kept the melodic quality high. Mellow, with a vocal that dovetailed neatly with the self-produced backing track. ‘Phone A Friend’ – slightly darker, gothic song about loneliness. Tremendous control in the voice, which started low then swooped up to a soprano. This was an immersive performance, expressing the song physically and musically. ‘Weird’ – middle Eastern / Egyptian sounding with an introspective tale of wanting to be on her own. Self-critical lyrically, but unselfconscious in the dancing. ‘Death Wish’ – about feeling selfish and unable to handle relationships. Not the usual hip hop lyrical bravado. ‘Die Tonight’ – one of her happier songs (!) this was about feeling good. Amazing vocal. ‘In The Water’ – not quite finished, this had sensuality and raw power. Moving to acoustic guitar, ‘Burned Out’ – dark and grungy, reflective and real, this song flowed with ease. ‘Save My Space’ – written when she was 16 and influenced by The Corrs. Soulful and impressively-written for someone so young. Perfectly captured that feeling of many adolescents on the cusp of adulthood in needing their own space. ‘Bleach’ – lots of strong imagery with both guitar playing and singing seeming effortless. A plea to “make me feel like I’m 10 feet tall”. ‘Vixen’ – SMUT.’s encore and the most poppy one of her acoustic songs this evening. Showcasing her vocal range, this was as hot as the temperature on stage this evening! Sample lyric: “she takes off my clothes / I’m scared of my soul”. A tumultuous feature act performance from SMUT. this evening and an act to watch out for. You can find more online searching on “smutthegirl”. 

Review: James Igoe

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