The Rising Souls – Electric Circus 21 Feb 15

After years of gigging, last night was, embarrassingly, my first ever visit to Edinburgh’s Electric Circus.

Excuses, I have none, albeit perhaps that my musical junkets in Scotland have predominantly been in Glasgow,
save a smattering of Edinburgh gigs over the last few years.
Electric Circus is a quirky little place, the low slung ceiling giving it that very intimate feel as soon as you wander in. Through the front door and handily the bar is straight ahead. Seating to the right and off left just about 10 metres in front is the small stage.
As we arrived around 1945, Megan D, had kicked off the evenings entertainment (which had been put together by @JuliahMusic to raise money for Radio Forth’s Cash For Kids) warming up the already ample crowd. Following a short set, Ross Arthur and his guitar ran through a few numbers of his own. Fair play to the lad, not many would have the confidence  to cover Jessie J’s Price Tag for the waiting crowd. He pulled it off too, leaving to a well deserved cheer and round of applause.
As The Rising Souls took to the stage we stood up from the comfort of the leather lounge sofa’s we had somehow managed to acquire at the back of the room. The opening five chords of album opener “Don’t Say You Love Me” reminds me somewhat of The Doors Five To One.
Only though until ‘that’ voice grabbed the attention of my eardrums. Sounding far older than his years,
you’d be forgiven for thinking that around 60 Bensons a day were part of his regime. This is the gruff and yet sweet soulful sound of lead singer Dave Archibald. I wasn’t the only one immediately transfixed to the stage.
Three songs in and my personal favourite The Boxer had everyone mesmerised.
Three band members, somehow making the small selection of instruments sounding like so much more.
 To Dave’s right on bass is Kelso.. imagine what what Russell Brand might look like if he got his plentiful locks chopped a bit shorter. Side left, sitting on a box (sorry music peeps…. it’s a cajon don’t you know) was Tom, who hopefully won’t be offended if I say I thought there was a bit of a Scroobius Pip vibe being rocked. Well cool!
The evenings set was executed to perfection. More than one person told me they’d listen to this all night and I found it hard to disagree. Finding the balance between up tempo foot stomping, and laid back grooves seemed to be carried out absolutely seamlessly and with ease.
So what exactly do these guys sound like?
Well, I’d heard the first album the band made as a four piece and it definitely emanated quite a rock vibe. Perhaps with lead singer having the whole Mark Rankin denim jacket going on, I remember thinking a refined GUN, for those old enough…. But wait!
STOP PRESS
The four piece rather rock sounding Rising Souls came back as a three piece with musical direction taking a very, very interesting turn.
The voice contains the same passion and soul as I remember yet there is a definite more bluesy feel to the music.
More than a couple of times I’m sure I hear something a little Doorsey coming into the sound.
But what inspired the change of direction I wondered. It’s always interesting to see bands changing genre, particularly when the result is as satisfactory as this one. The edginess of Dave’s vocals, I thought was perfectly suited to the rock sound but mixed with the bluesy feel just seems… well, so right.
I asked Dave after the gig about the change of direction, which seemed like a natural progression, following a few acoustic sessions he and Kelso had done together, following the release of the first album.
Listening to the likes of Otis reading, Ella Fitzgerald and Sam Cooke he explained that writing music inspired by them is what had become the most natural thing to do.
What happened though is that the rock undercurrents still eminate and the result is something quite rather spectacular.
Opening lines of The Boxer sum this up perfectly for me….
I am a firecracker, I”m going to melt you down.
I’m not a lover, I’m a fighter whose in doubt..
Put on those boxing gloves and I will knock you down.
But the count to 10 aint long enough so throw that towel now.
Man you talk a pretty good game now but it aint so good
When your lying seeing double…..
Like most in attendance last night I could not disagree. This was a group of young men looking very comfortable, natural and thoroughly in love with what they were doing.
As the band name says, these boys have soul.. Watch them rise!Rising Souls

Andrew Roachford – Voodoo Rooms Edinburgh 18 Oct

The short walk from Edinburgh’s Waverley station toward West Maitland Street on Friday night was dreich. Rain too light to be bouncing off the street, but still enough to soak you to the skin should you choose to stay out in it too long.
Lucky then that my destination, The Voodoo Rooms, only required me to cross Princes Street and duck around the side of The Cafe Royal.
Blink though and you might easily miss this hidden gem. It nestles quietly off the cobbles on the backstreet, only seconds from the bustle of the city centre.
A solitary door is the only evidence from the road that the place exists, but the large sign above let’s you know you are in the right place. As you enter and climb the short flight of stairs you arrive in a dark but cosy gothic reception room. The walls are black with gold trim and a glance up reveals a lavish golden monikered lampshade. Ahead leads to the long narrow bar, which, with it’s black walls, golden fixtures and subtle décor, give the feel of an exclusive club. To the rear of the reception area, and up a couple more stairs, leads to The Ballroom.
A small crowd of gig goers had gathered by just after 7PM waiting on the doors to the Ballroom opening, all eagerly anticipating tonight’s artist.
Just before 7.30PM the door to the ballroom was opened and those with tickets or luckily enough to be on the guest list to the evenings sold out event, were welcomed into the ballroom.
The rectangular room, set out as a live music venue, becomes evident, with sound booth at the rear middle, and stage front.
The walls are black, the trim gold. Ceiling fixtures of gold are in keeping with venue’s interior, whilst a large resplendent disco ball sparkles as a fitting centre piece.
The white pinhole spots on the walls combined with the mellow hip hop backing track, gave an indoor equivalent of a starry moonlit smooth groove laden ambience. A very nice effect indeed, of the magical intimate venue.
The chat was lively, drinks were being savoured and then to the stage came Little Fire.
This unmistakable gravelly voice hails from Ayrshire, yes homegrown talent.
An upbeat start was of meeting a girl. And although through his set some solemn numbers followed, the general feeling was vibrant. The young man should hold strong to his high hopes as he possesses a natural talent and flare for being on the stage.
You mean something to me and 10 ways are great tracks, with a real positive upbeat attitude towards life. All I need in life had heads swaying and seemed to sum up how Little Fire perhaps felt being on the stage. He seemed very at home, right down to the shared banter with crowd. A mutual feeling of respect between artist and audience resounded sweetly with the city’s culture being tipped a wink before Little Fire thanked the headline act for the opportunity. (Keep an eye out for more information on Little Fire, soon on the site.) Positivity oozed in his voice, not difficult to understand why he’d been chosen to support Andrew Roachford.
In true understated style, Andrew Roachford took to the stage as the opening chords of Ebony on loop, built the crowd anticipation.
Smiles all around the filled ballroom doesn’t quite give enough gravitas to the atmosphere that surrounds a Roachford gig. The feeling of warmth, of being wrapped up in a big Roachford family gathering is what it feels like. Love eminates every inch of the the room and centre stage Andrew has everyone in the palm of his hand.
The set comprised of a mix of old and new. Tracks from new album The Beautiful Moment combined wonderfully with numbers from his previous albums to ensure the evening went from funky to soulful to rock and back. Watching him on stage, felt like Andrew loved every single moment as much as the audience. Along with his band, he has honed his craft carefully over the years, to the point of delivering a masterclass in velvet harmonies, musical timing and direction, showmanship and stage presence. There is always plenty of chat to be heard after a Roachford gig, around people’s disbelief at how Roachford has never had sustained global musical superstardom. Friday was no exception.
And whilst it’s easy to agree, many are happy to let it remain one of life’s great mysteries.
I guess perhaps it’s a shared belief that when so much positive energy flows and love is welcomed in to a room, when this man plays, let’s just all be grateful.

SETLIST
Ebony
I Get High
Real Again
The Beautiful Moment
The Way I Feel
Hello Friend
Without You
Ride The Storm
Family Man teaser
Work It Out (livin in the city)
This Generation

Encore
Kathleen
Superstition
Lay your love
Emergency
Over your shoulder
Because you
Cuddly toy
Only To Be With You
Wonder Wall

The Gramotones Visit Scotland and Wish Lennon Happy Birthday

Regular readers of the site will perhaps already recognise the name of The Gramotones. I first heard and met the band in the summer of this year…remember? No! Shame on you.
Here’s a little reminder of what I’ve already said about them….

“Remember The La’s? Imagine invigorating that spirit with a fresh sounding 2012 go get em approach and you’re not a million miles off”

“There are definitely shades of a certain Liverpudlian sound emanating. Imagine the jangle of days gone by, shaken down and freshened up to make a vibrant 21st century feel good sound.”

Well, a couple of weeks ago The Gramotones released their first single, Soldiers Kiss. The story of unnecessary loss of life during war, or a tongue in daydream of drummer James that portrays the complete annihilation of an entire box full of free range eggs? Watch the video and decide yourself. The song starts lively and continues in the same manner. There’s plenty of musical variation in the song too, with the drumming nodding a knowing wink to a military march. The combination of guitar sounds brings that battlefield effect and vocals are accentuated perfectly, all combining to give a good old indie stomper feel to the sound whilst ensuring the message is delivered appropriately.
Listen here

At the same time they released the single, the band embarked on a tour. After the launch party in Manchester it was on to Preston, before heading North for their first Scottish gig at Fiddlers Elbow in Edinburgh.
And it was here, I caught up with the band once again.
Worth saying, quite fitting that the evening was a John Lennon birthday celebration, (organised by Edinburgh singer songwriter Aaron Wright) given my previous comments about the bands sound.

Fiddlers Elbow is a quirky little spot for live music, the upper floor holding perhaps 150 people. The exterior’s Georgian architecture is still reflected inside, which gives it a real warm, pleasant, cosy feel.
Aaron put on a number of bands, who all gave their own different variety of warmth to the nights proceedings, before The Gramotones took to the stage at 2350.
By this time, the crowd were in good voice and certainly not lacking the party mood. Getting straight down to business, they immediately had heads nodding. It was pretty clear that these guys were well rehearsed and knew exactly what they were about. Testament to the nature of their perfectionism could be seen as Jake tweaked the EQ to have the sound crisper than it had been all night.
A couple of songs in and it probably wasn’t just me thinking that it’s really hard to pigeon-hole these guys into a particular genre. With that said, why should we.
James’s quite methodical drumming style is interspersed with a wildness usually reserved for references to Animal…but he’s no muppet, for sure. Ryan moves about a fair bit for a bassist, but it’s when he points it skyward that you sense the sheer concentration on his face..key to that perfect delivery.
And Sid..well he’s everything a front man should be…engaging, endearing to the crowd and quite obviously not too upset at the advances of some of the Edinburgh collective. It’s safe to say he invites the few hecklers, but certainly not slow in delivering an effective response each time.
Soldiers Kiss is given an airing as was favourite M62, both well received by the Scottish fans. During Nowhere Man, Aaron joined the band on stage for what appeared for many, the highlight of the night. It certainly summed up the feelings that are still very very alive for the Beatle.
All in all, a great first outing for The Gramotones on Scottish soil.
Unfortunately not one they had too long to revel in though. Another gig in Blackburn the following night meant they could only watch part of Aaron’s set before getting back on the road…dont worry, I’m pretty sure they’ll be back!

Finally, in a fortunate turn of events, I found myself sharing a short part of their journey home. In fact, just long enough to fit in a little interview with the band.
Here it is…

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