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Sunday, 2 September 2012

Su Casa Beach tent - Live@Troon - 01/09/12

Troon as a town isn't exactly known as a hot bed of musical talent, but once a year it kicks the dust of its dancing shows and for a few days lets its hair down with a multiple venue festival that really does cater to the tastes of everyone.
Of the smorgasbord of talent available it was the Su Casa tent down near the beach that I headed to, and it was there that I had a glass half empty, or is it half full moment, as I stepped in and caught what was the end of Craig Martin Wards set.
On the half empty side I was annoyed at missing the bulk of his set as I like what he does.
There's a sense of humour that threads its way through his lyrics and gives them a little something extra that many solo singer/songwriting troubadours don't have.
It's not a case of them leaning towards being comedic parodies, but instead that he has the ability to put a wry smile into the content of the material that gives an audience moments where they can smile along in recognition of how absurd all our lives can be sometimes.
It's a nice touch.
It often surprises me that his name isn't more often on the lips of local music fans when they discuss who the big fishes are in the small pond.
On the glass half full side at least I didn't miss his whole set.

Following on from Craig was Jamie Mann who many of my musical acquaintances have urged me not to miss.
Initially I wasn't really keying into his music. The first song was well played and he has a very good voice that hints at Jeff Buckley without encroaching on the histrionics that he was apt to occasionally favour.
It was the lyrics that just didn't engage.
Then just as I was wondering what it was that others had seen in him that I couldn't he revealed all with his second song, and from that moment on simply got better and better.
By the end of his short set he had won me over.
His guitar playing is impressive. Nice finger picking with little flourishes that add to the performance and vocally he knows how to deliver a well crafted song.
From what I thought was a weak start he really managed to bring it all together and deliver an excellent performance.

Sonic Templars were to be the first band of the night that I would see.
Normally a full on indie rock band this was the stripped down version who were missing a drummer but had picked up a violinist.
Similar to Jamie Mann they are a much talked about act who I had yet to see.
The difference between them, apart from musical styles, was that I was impressed from the start.
The addition of the violin to the opening song opened the whole performance up and added something that would be hard to express.
It just allowed them to hit the ground running with a much fuller sound than I expected.
Sadly that was the only song to feature Amy on violin, but the rest of the set was equally as strong and the acoustic bass gave the music a solid peg for them to hang everything on.
It's very obvious that in essence they are a rock band, but delivering their songs acoustically doesn't give them any problems and the material is pretty solid.
By the time they reached the last song of the set it seemed rather obvious that if they had arrived with the intent of converting people to their cause that they had done so with some style.
Now I really do need to see the whole electric shebang.

Now what can be said about Colin Hunter and Calum Muir.
Both are very talented young men, and separately are more than able of taking a crowd by the hand and entertaining them.
My own preferences lean towards what Colin does on his own, but that's not a slight on what Calum does as he is equally as good.
It's just a subjective taste thing on my part.
Yet when they play together they appear to be able to bring out the best in each other.
That they have known each other for so many years obviously plays a part in it. Like some musicians who have shares stages for decades they can read the subtleties of each others performances and take turns in leading each other in different direction while maintaining a flow.
Taking turns to sing lead or backing vocals depending on what is required comes across very well. As does their ability to swap instruments to suit what the songs need.
It;s actually a really captivating performance that they should both be very proud of, but there is one issue I have with them and that's that this is often just a live experience.
Once they step off the stage the experience can't be revisited, and they really need to have a CD or something, anything, available for us so that we can take a piece of what they are doing home with us.

From Colin and Calum leaving the stage and The Holy Ghosts taking to it something seemed to change.
It got a bit darker, the tent got a bit busier and there was a feeling in the air that crackled with a bit of tension.
It's the sort of thing that would get dogs howling and people looking to the sky and asking when the storm was coming, and it's all the doing of The Holy Ghosts.
There's something dangerous about them.
Something rock and roll that puts a primal swagger in their step
When the crashed into their set all I could think was that when Liam asked Noel to join Oasis that they sat down and tried to think about all the things they wanted the band to be.
'Lets get some Stones in it our kid, a bit of The Faces, loads of The Beatles eh? The sneer of Lydon and fuck it let's throw in the seventies terrace stomp of Slade to'.
What they didn't realize that what they were describing was the Holy Ghosts as they live and breath right now.
Keeping on the subject of the Gallagher, or one of them anyway, I was reading the latest interview salvo from Noel Gallagher where he was quite rightly bemoaning that the record industry isn't a conducive to breaking rock and roll legends any more.
It's true.
I could go along with his view that the investments isn't there and even strongly agree that DJs with play lists to adhere to aren't really DJs.
Yet I'm not going to agree that everyone is following on from the lowest common denominator bollocks in the charts, and that there's no one with the ability to become the next rock and roll legend.
There's always going to be bands like that.
The Holy Ghosts prove it when they step onto a stage.
There's the whole history of rock and roll there, from the Faces playing the Speakeasy to The Clash playing stadiums, from the swagger of Jagger to the Johnny Cash kicking out the footlights.
This is a stadium band playing a tent.
Of course there's no guarantees that they will be the band to break big globally, or even nationally, but there's no arguing that they have everything in place to be able to do it.
Once their debut album is out I could well imagine NME journos prematurely ejaculating in a frenzy to be the first to say they have found the great white hopes for rock and roll.
For once they would be right, but the stains on their crotches will always look ugly in retrospect.

And then it all went a bit pear shaped.
As Little Fire stepped up the Holy Ghost loving audience did a runner to catch The View who were the main draw of the weekend.
Circumstances just dealt him a raw hand.
The draw of The View was just too strong and while he, and then Rose Parade played excellent sets it was to a decimated, albeit appreciative, audience.
It's nights like this that artists and bands show their backbone though and both Little Fire and Rose parade took it in their strides.
I suspect that once both acts have their debut albums out that less people would be drawn away from seeing them as much is on show to indicate that both will be very special.


  1. Funny wee write up this, we heard from acts that the tent was a complete failure for the second year running. The Live@troon organisers have a fuckin cheek charging bars £250 + PA + advertising just to to be part of proceedings, someone made a packet while we mere musicians handed our services out for free again.

  2. It was busy to very busy from Craig Ward onwards, and then it emptied when The Holy Ghosts ended their set and people vanished to get into The View.
    You would have though someone had shouted fire at that point.
    It was like a major evacuation.
    I couldn't comment on what the sketch was before I arrived though, so it's possible it wasn't busy early on.
    If they are talking about the time frame I covered then they're talking shite basically.

    I will say that people from Kilwinning who were through to see the View mentioned that not one poster or flyer had been seen in their area and they wouldn't have known anything about Live@Troon if they hadn't been fans of The View.
    I could back that up about Kilmarnock.
    There might have been an internet presence and some stuff in the local press, but the promo WAS lacking, unless of course you come from Troon.
    I have no idea what the score is about Live@Troon charging bars, but if that is the case then they are treating the venues in the same way they would a burger van at a festival.

    Central sales of tickets for individual gigs, and wrist bands sold at a nominal fee that allowed punters to get into a list of venues excluding the big name acts in the hall would have been a better idea.
    That way Live@Troon gets the cash up front and the venues have no real outlay and make their cash from bar sales.
    Fees should obviously be discussed with all bands and paid by Live@troon.
    Even if the fee is beer on tap for them.
    I doubt the headliners played for nothing.

    One thing that I wasn't happy about was the dearth of guest list tickets. Not for chancers etc, but I know someone who has put a great deal of work into an event on their behalf and his wife had to buy a ticket for The View.
    (He didn't even have one for himself)
    In fact now that I think about it I'm not sure what he is getting out of it at all apart from a migraine.
    So similarly to the acts playing it would also seem that others weren't really getting rewarded for their efforts either.

    Some could argue the point that it's good promo for acts and even others who are putting on events under the umbrella of Live@Troon, but then that takes us back to my point about 'what promo'

    Personally I keep clear of anything that has a committee involved.
    The end result always seems to be one full of disharmony and recriminations.

  3. The advertising was appalling outside Troon itself. If I hadn't been visiting my dad some weeks back I would never have heard of it! However I was in the tent all Saturday afternoon and had a blast! The View were not the only reason the tent emptied - the council locked the only nearby loos. So the audience did not get pish they had simply gone for one!

  4. To be fair, the su casa tent was rocking today.

  5. and I wasn't there. ;)
    Maybe folk are avoiding me and turning up at things they know I'm not at.
    Guaranteed good turn out if I don't attend.