After years of gigging, last night was, embarrassingly, my first ever visit to Edinburgh’s Electric Circus.
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.
I Get High
The Beautiful Moment
The Way I Feel
Ride The Storm
Family Man teaser
Work It Out (livin in the city)
Lay your love
Over your shoulder
Only To Be With You
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.
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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