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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Alan Bishop (The Red Eyes) /Ross Gilchrist/Barry & Munro - Dirty Martinis - Kilmarnock 11/2/11

What's that saying? When life gives you lemons then make lemonade?
It's something like that.
In my morning after the night before befuddled mind that phrase keeps popping up, but it's apt. When Kirk Brandon fell ill and postponed his acoustic tour we were left with two options.
We could pull the night completely, or find someone else at short notice and make it a free show.
The latter seemed the best option and the guys in Dirty Martinis jumped forward and sorted out a young guy called Ross Gilchrist to fill the bill and that was it done and dusted.
Three acts for nothing, nada, zilch and even gratis as way of an apology to those who had committed to attending the Kirk Brandon show.
It was a nice and relaxed evening from the start. More akin to a party than an actual gig.
It just had that hassle free atmosphere to it with everyone being pleasantly ego free and happy to play whenever and for however long suited.
Alan Bishop of The Red Eyes volunteered to go on first and treated us all to a set of acoustic versions of Red Eyes songs and some punk covers.
“Kids” from their last album went down really well, as did an unrecorded track about the personal price people are paying for the war in Afghanistan.
Alan doesn't often get political, but this was an incredibly moving tribute to those who have lost their lives, the families that suffer that loss and lyrically it doesn't shy away from pointing the finger of blame at those in power who commit young lives to conflict zones without losing sleep over it.
The blatant honesty revealed in the song acted as a catalyst for people to approach Alan later on in the evening and speak to him about how it touched them. As a songwriter he must have been moved himself to know that something he had created could have such a direct impact on people.
It's in moments like those, that make you realize how important music is. How it aids communication and brings people together communally.
It's maybe true that no song changed the world, but on a daily basis they change how you feel and Alan keyed right into that with his set being fun, familiar, and thought provoking depending on where he was taking it.
This was areal revelation for me as I have only previously seen him fronting his Red Eyes and while they have always impressed it didn't prepare me for how good Alan would be on his own.
Ross Gilchrist was also a huge surprise to me. A week ago I hadn't heard of him and even the day before the gig I had only heard two songs, but this is a very talented young man indeed.
Due to having had a lay off for a few years from playing solo acoustically he admitted to being a bit nervy before going on, but he needn't have worried at all.
Instead of dipping his toe back and seeing how a song or two goes he dived right in at the deep end with a full set that went down very well with the increasingly lubricated crowd.
Initially you could be forgiven for thinking that there's a casual lightweight element to his indie rock material, but it's actually pretty deceptive.
There's a bite to it, an underlying strength that slowly reveals itself.
While he doesn't sound like Weezer musically you could take them as a jump off point as an example of how music can have hooks, melody and a wide appeal while still maintaining a degree of credibility, and then translate that over to what Ross does.
He has a great ear for a song, but also an attitude of artistic integrity that commands more respect. It's all very well balanced and probably far harder to do that most of us would appreciate..
As someone who occasionally promotes a gig or two I would certainly have him back.
Local heroes Barry and Munro, who between them have probably been in every great band to come out of Ayrshire over the years, then followed Ross and regaled everyone with a set of punk covers that added to the party atmosphere.
It's not all straight runs at the classics though. There's a jazz influenced medley of pistols stuff, and even a bit of country and western twang thrown in at another point, and while that may sound strange everyone was roaring with approval between the matey heckling that was going on.
The evening could have ended there, but no one seemed too keen on heading home so another guy who I don't know borrowed Alan Bishops guitar and did a few numbers.
Unfortunately while he was good his laid back style wasn't keeping the party train rolling and most people contented themselves in catching up with old compadres and only got back into the swing of things when MC for the night Faither started playing classics from the late seventies and early eighties.
To say that it was a perfect nostalgia trip wouldn't do it justice. He didn't put a foot wrong with the song choices and in no time at all people were dancing like they probably hadn't for a decade or two.
By this juncture of the evening everyone was pretty much slaughtered on the drink, but there hadn't been one hint of trouble.
As last orders were shouted out I reckon we could have went on for another hour or two, but I'll go with the argument that it's always best to leave people wanting more and just say that I had a blast from start to finish.
Dirty Martinis is without doubt where it is at for music in this area.
Regardless of whether it is Kel and myself promoting a show or anyone else I would say that everyone should be out there supporting live music and the venues that provide it.
Everyone who was there on the night would tell you there's no downside.
Great times had by all.

The Red Eyes -
Ross Gilchrist -

1 comment:

  1. Crackin review mate. Gaun yersel Alan!
    nice one