Search This Blog

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Brown Bear and the Bandits - Bakers - 30/11/12 (Kilmarnock)

I've been saying 'oooft' a lot recently.
Not out loud, but in print.
I have no idea why it has slipped into my limited online vocabulary, and it doesn't even legitimately mean anything.
It's more an indication of a small brief exclamation of surprise, positive or negative, but the fact remains that over the last few weeks there's been a lot to oooft at.
There was the couple arguing at Rizzle Kicks. Oooft.
There was the fantastic show from Tragic City Thieves and Electric 6. Oooft.
There was the news that Springsteen is coming to Glasgow next year. Oooft.
The release of a nice Jam box set. Oooft.
,,and then there was the Brown Bear and the Bandits gig in Kilmarnock that wholly deserved an oooft as well.
Oh that was a night of ooofts!

First was Matt Scott who I have seen many a time, a guy who I now consider a friend, and for the sake of honesty I'll admit to quasi managing him although I hate using that term as it really just about spreading the word a bit about a talented young man.
I never really expect him to play badly, and I always enjoy his performances, but everything clicked into place in Bakers.
The quality of the sound and lighting perfectly set the stage for him to showcase his voice, and the environment just lent itself to lifting the performance from a good one to a great one.
There was nothing in his set that wouldn't have been out of place on a bigger stage in front of a larger audience, and the magic that had drawn me to appreciate his talents was there for all to hear and see.
I could quite easily imagine that if a record label executive was in attendance then Matt would have left the stage to an invite to a meeting where they could discuss his future.
There's very few singer songwriters plying a trade in the Waits, Dylan, Miller style as he is, nor doing it so well. 
If you haven't seen him yet, then do so.

Following Matt was the much touted Baltimore League, and while I was impressed with the studio recordings of Martyrs and Town that are on their facebook page I couldn't say the same about the live performance.
I just wasn't feeling it
There was a disjointed feeling to the material with them sounding as if they were being performed by different bands depending on who was assuming the lead vocal.
Maybe in a few months the songs will be able to assume more of a band sound and a live set will come across as less fragmented.
There's no doubting the band are talented enough musicians, and the song writing is fine.
It's just that it feels to me that they are still stepping around each other, and the day is yet to come when all three members fit together to work towards a common sound and aim.
It could well be very interesting when they do.

There's no such drifting from Paul McGranaghan who was introducing his new full band project to promote his debut album.
While I've always enjoyed his solo acoustic outings I would have to say that none of them prepared me for the album when I heard it.
Taking his influences from the writing of Hunter S Thompson the album has a broad range of styles that reflects the lyrical content of each song, and while it's an eclectic mix it also has a solid solid thread that holds it all together.
It's an album that I would expect to hear from an artist many releases into their career, and not on a debut.
It's damn impressive.
So impressive that I have tried to review it on a number of occasions and ended up hitting delete as nothing I have managed to get down has come close to putting across how good it is.

Prior to the band playing - who were made up of the drummer of ShelfLife and the bassist of Brown Bear and the Bandits - I was wondering how it was going to be interpreted on stage, especially with it being a trio playing the material, but as the last note rang out I was none the wiser.
Right there was the main oooft moment of the night
The performance didn't sound like it was possible to have been made by three guys.
Great guitar work throughout, solid drumming, and bass runs that helped fill everything out and made it all sound far bigger than it really should have were the order of the evening.
If I was asked if Paul delivered then I can only say that it was like ordering a main course and getting the full three courses for the same price.
From blue collar rockers to a singular moment when if you closed your eyes you would have thought that led Zeppelin had entered the building it was quite possible the best debut of a band that I have seen.
Utterly compelling stuff if you are a music fan.

Brown Bear and the Bandits had a great deal to follow after that performance, but follow it they did with a set that comprised of pretty much everything they have recorded, and a few tasters of material that will be on their debut album that could well be with is for March.
They did exactly what a band has to do when a support play a blinder and that's step up to the plate and take a deep breath and go for it.
The new songs that were introduced sound like a natural progression from the material on the Truth or Dare ep so it's doubtful that anyone who considers themselves a fan of the band just now will be disappointed, and there's enough forward momentum to allow the album to attract new fans to.
So all sounds well and good in the Brown Bear camp and once again I got the distinct impression that I was seeing a band who are not going to flounder at the big fish in the small pond stage, and instead on who were ready and willing to make the leap to bigger things and take it in their stride with some aplomb.
I would be surprised at all if in 2013 the band become the next Ayrshire one to make a splash nationally.  


  1. This is one of those rare occasions when I up an anonymous comment.
    Brilliant isn't it?
    So much passion put into four little letters.
    The capitals, the exclamation point.
    Some would call it basic.
    I'd say it has the beauty of minimalism.
    It's a work of art in itself.
    Expressionism was never this blunt and honest.
    Love it.
    Or should I say LOVE IT!