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Saturday, 7 July 2012

Brown Bear and the Bandits/Little Fire/Megan Blyth - Su Casa - 5/7/12 (Ayr)

It's the dawning of a new era for Su Casa.
Gone is the regular weekly showcase of talent that blurred the lines between an open mic night and a gig proper, and in its place is the more traditional fair of headline act and supports.
It's a natural evolution for the small coffee shop that has carved a name for itself as one of the main spawning pools for talent in Ayrshire, and a move that should be mutually beneficial for the venue itself, the artists that play there and the audience who keep coming back for more.
Tonight it's local heroes Brown Bear and the Bandits making an appearance to celebrate being together for a year by returning to the scene of the crime that was their first ever gig.
Handily, and in the spirit of killing two birds with one stone, it's also the opportunity to stretch their muscles and loosen up before they take T in the Park by storm.

The night however doesn't start with Brown Bear and the Bandits.
Instead Su Casa mainstay Little Fire - who I last seen in Su Casa finishing a night off - neatly provides the link between what was then and what is now.

With the new set length that the venue provides he breathes more easily in the time frame and positively widens the scope of the material that he can push out to the audience.
While it's true that I've lost count of how many times I have seen him perform, I've yet to see a set that hasn't had at least one fresh moment included in it.
Watching Little Fire is akin to participating in a work in progress. Ideas are formed, tempo's are changed, the passion of the delivery is tweaked and the spirit of the music is ever growing and reaching out to ensnare new listeners.
This time was no different with the inclusion of a song that will feature on his forthcoming album length release of original material, and an old one called Horny that was resurrected and pumped full of vigour.
Refreshingly refusing to be pigeon holed with a folk, indie or even pop tag Little Fire is moving forwards towards being the singer/songwriter/performer who will be all things to all men - and of course women to.

Following on from Little Fire with her debut at Su Casa was Megan Blyth, and an impressive debut it turned out to be.
A precocious talent, she has the ability to mould her vocals warmly around the simple guitar accompaniment that she provides, and in doing so magically creates a rich tapestry of folk influenced songs that simply soar in the live setting.
If this is the sound of a young women taking tentative steps into a career as an musical artists then what the future could hold for her is something I can't actually wrap my head around.
It sounds like she is starting off at a point that often takes other talented artists years to reach.
Imagine hearing Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins actually enunciating words and refraining from delving into a Gaelic version of singing in tongues.
If you, like me, loved the whole idea of that band, but struggled with that ethereal aspect of them, then Megan is going to provide the alternative that will tick more boxes.
That she is already at a level to deliver that alternative is pretty much mind blowing.

Unfortunately I missed the immensely talented Paul McGranaghan who played next. I know that he has talent in abundance as I've seen him before, and as I could hear hear plenty of rapturous applause from within Su Casa there's no doubt in my mind that his set wasn't one that could come close to being described as falling short on delivering.

That draw of the evening were of course Brown Bear and the Bandits, a band whose star is definitely ascending rapidly.
Matthew, Kay and Stuart must feel that someone has hit the fast forward button on the single year of the bands existence.
Yet I sincerely doubt that you could find anyone who would begrudge their success as they are sickeningly good, and genuinely nice people to.
In a world where it often seems that the majority are happy with what could best be described as lowest common denominator entertainment, paired with a lust to laud petty nastiness as an attribute that we should all aspire to, they are swimming against the flow and gaining well deserved kudos for being everything that isn't shiny and shallow.
This is a real band, a band that fit together perfectly, and a band who still possess a degree of innocence, freshness and vibrancy about them that works as an integral part of the attraction.
That they are within arms length of achieving everything that a young band could wish for is also something that is tangible in their live performances.
It often seems that when everything is going well in life, it is then that we are at our best, and right now everything is going very well for Brown Bear and the Bandits and it shows.
When they start their set in Su Casa they immediately set the bar high for themselves and maintain an exuberant pace throughout.
There's no real let up from start to finish, and it's all done with huge smiles.
I can't help but think that their set could be the template that's used to give other less entertaining bands a clue about how it should be done.
Familiar songs from their ep burst out of the gate, some solid new material is tried out, and a cover of the Talking Heads classic 'Psycho Killer' probably had Tina Weymouth restlessly moaning in her sleep due to sensing that someone somewhere was showing people how the bass line could be turbo charged.
It's pretty much a faultless gig. 
In fact scratch that 'pretty much' bit. 
It is a faultless gig.
As the weather report for T in the Park is torrential rain it could be likely that Brown Bear and the Bandits will be the act that provides a real ray of sunshine that lifts the spirits of the damp festival goers.
They certainly lifted the spirits of the audience in Su Casa.
If you haven't seen them yet.
Then do yourself a favour.

ep launch review (Su Casa)
Brown Bear and The Bandits interview

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