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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Dirty Weekender – Friday 1st June – Kilmarnock.

I think I managed to ge a golden ticket for this. 
Every time I touched down in the two venues that were participating in the first Dirty Weekender I was privileged to see one great act after another.
Maybe it was luck and I just blindly managed to stay on track with the most talented of the line up, or then again it's quite possible that it wouldn't have mattered who I had seen, because it is entirely probable that everyone playing was of a similarly high quality.
First act in Bakers was the passionately driven Roscoe Vacant who played much of his set to a small, but very appreciative audience.
The lack of bodies in attendance so early in the evening is no reflection on the abundant talents that he so very obviously has.
Roscoe is quite simply a stunningly articulate lyricists, and his take on how the one man and a guitar social commentary angle should be approached is pretty much peerless.
There's a fire in his belly that really can't be diminished when he takes to a stage, and while I can't speak for others, I can say for myself that I often feel his performance in my gut.
It speaks to me on many levels in an eloquently visceral way that most performers can't match..
The addition of a Johnny Thunders cover to his set isn't something that people would expect, and I suppose they would question how it would fit, but this is Johnny filtered through Roscoe.
Not strictly speaking a straight cover at all.
With his Ayrshire accent replacing Johnny's New York drawl the song itself has a completely different feel to it, and he works it hard.
It would be fair to say that from a cold start Roscoe set the bar very high, and left me thinking that it was possible that his performance wouldn't be matched through the remainder of the night.
I was wrong though.
Cal Murray followed him and did virtually the same thing.
Not that he was a sound-alike, but instead what I mean is that he just nailed it.
His lyrical style is equally as biting as Roscoe's, but his delivery of the words has a broader appeal.
There's an every-man pop aspect it it all.
An amalgamation of protest folk, punk rock, and warped love songs that are far more easy on the ear than the descriptive terms would lead you to believe.
You don't have to work at getting what he does.
It's just out there perfectly formed and ready to be appreciated by a wide demograph of music lovers, and that takes me to an issue I have with him.
It's that he hasn't recorded any of his material and provided it to the public.
I can't wrap my head around.
It makes no sense at all.
He really needs someone to roll him out of bed in the morning and stand over him ready to slap the slacker out of him when he looks for something else to do rather than record.
I doubt that it is really a sense of laziness though, as I gather he prolifically writes, but each song is being left in the wake of the next and there's no public record of them existing except for in the live environment.
Once Cal Murray had completed his set we hot footed it to Dirty Martinis to catch Matt Scott.
Once again Matt delivered, but this time there was a palpable frisson to his songs that isn't always there.
Sometimes it would appear that while he is performing his material that the music and words are left hanging out there, and those listening participate in the experience from the outside looking in.
It is still a fantastic experience, but on other occasions, like this one, the barrier is down and it's an enjoyable communal and exhilarating experience for all.
When after winning over the crowd with his original materiel he let loose with his acoustically driven reworking of the Doors classic 'Roadhouse Blues' everything clicked firmly in place, and Matt reveled in the moment as the cries for some of the few covers he is known for playing were raised ever louder.
One such request for Springsteen Thunder Road was met with the throaty reply. 'I'm not a fuckin' jukebox. I'm not a covers act so here's..............................a Frankie Miller song' before he launched into 'Drunken Nights In The City' as a rousing finale to what was an excellent set.
Following on from Matt Scott was Rod Jones ex guitarist of Idlewild and vocalist of The Birthday Suit.
His set was very far removed from what I had expected as I was looking for an Idlewild hook to hang a hat on, but that didn't really transpire and I was left comfortably exposed to Rod's music.
There's nothing that challenging about it.
No sharp edges or thrashing angular guitar work to contend with, and it's all rather nice.
Not nice, but boring, just nice..
More so an easy flow to it that would provide a welcome distraction to the realities of the grind of life.
In hindsight, and in the cold light of day, I'm beginning to think that Rod was misplaced on the bill though, and that his set wasn't something that flowed naturally along with the the music of the other acts in the order that they came, but then again that's not to say that it wasn't equally as good, because it was.
My problem - and this has just come to me -, is that while I thoroughly enjoyed what Rod was doing that I'm finding it hard to carry the experience over, as when Suspire, and then Johnny Graham followed him they both firmly put his performance in the shade.
Suspire were one of the acts, along with Johnny Graham, who I hadn't seen before, and both had me juggling all the set times about to make sure I did.
Without pulling any punches about it I can safely say that I'm glad that I did as they didn't even come close to disappointing me.
Suspire's twin vocals are frankly sublime, and the duel guitar and drums backing was....well to say perfect means that there's no room for improvement, but perfect about sums it up.
I've said this before, but I've seen bands play in very small venues before that don't fit, and Suspire are one of them.
They need the bigger stage to breathe easy on and a large crowd to feed off of.
There's no guarantees in this game, but it's not hard to imagine them leaving these small clubs behind very soon and managing to garner fans and critical plaudits in equal measure wherever they go.
This fantastic acoustic performance was just one facet of what they can do to, and I'm now firmly committed to catching them do an electric set.
They reminded me of seeing Biffy Clyro in that there was a second or two that a possible successful future for them became apparent.
A little window opened up and you could see what could be and it looked damn good.
After Suspire you would have thought that Johnny Graham, who had found himself manoeuvred about the running order until he was occupying the last man standing spot, would have failed dramatically in following them, but that wasn't to be the case.
While the majority flocked to see Bombskare in Bakers a very small group of people hung about for Johnny, and I consider that we were privileged to do so.
Robbie McInnes – who is also an artist that everyone should check out – commented that Johnny with his violin, bass, single bass drum and acoustic guitar backing was like Mumford and Sons, and while I can happily go along with that I could eagerly argue the point that Johnny is better.
The Mumford and Sons comparison neatly sets you in the same ball park, but there's far more warmth in what Johnny is doing, and it isn't all indie folk either.
Lyrically and vocally the music is astoundingly strong and similarly to how the night started out the talents on display had no bearing on how many people were there to see them being so openly shared.
If someone was to have taken an overview photograph of the band and audience, then they could be forgiven for thinking it was just three guys in a pub playing to a few folk and there wasn't much more to it that that, but the reality wouldn't have been captured at all.
Far from it.
The difference is that if you experience the reality then you would be aware that the music filled the room and effortlessly touched everyone in it.
Johnny and his band have the ability to lift you from your immediate surroundings and take you to a place where everything just feels fuckin' fine.
Thank Christ there are people like him that can do that.
Similar to Suspire Johnny just needs to be in the right place at the right time, and if he can manage to do that then everything else should just fall into place for him.
Once I arrived in Bakers to catch the end of Bombskare plenty of people were saying I had missed very nearly all of a great set. In reply it was easy for me to say that they had missed all of a great set.

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