Friday, 9 August 2013

Stanley Odd and The Electric String Orchestra - Live Review from The Queens Hall Edinburgh

One of the highlights of Ralph On Tour at the Edinburgh Fringe was the first night at Queen's Hall where Stanley Odd and the Electric String Orchestra were performing.  When it comes to Stanley Odd I'm a wee bit (OK a lot) biased, so by way of neutrality I met up with my man in Scotland, the inimitable Mr Malcolm Parry and he accompanied me to check out the gig.  What I will say is that it's as real, raw and exciting live as I'd expected - some say 5 star I'd say 6 - however in the interests of even handedness I'll let Malcolm take up the story...

After reading all about this Edinburgh band being nominated for best Scottish album at the SAY Award, friends recommending them and then finally being blown away after hearing 'Reject' it was a pleasure to be asked to review Stanley Odd live.

At this years Celtic Connections in Glasgow Stanley Odd played a gig with accompaniment by The Electric String Orchestra, tonight in Edinburgh for one night only they repeated the unique experience and I have to say I was pleased to have witnessed it.

On the night an 8 piece orchestra take to the stage and perform an Odd Overture followed shortly by Solareye aka Dave Hook and his 5 -piece musical posse - Veronika Electronika, Samso, AdMac, Scruff Lee and Tlo.

No time passed before Solareye is jumping up and down like a hip-hop toy powered by extra strength Duracell, breaking in to the new album's opening tune 'This Is Stanley Odd'. He introduces us to 'Killergram' (a great upbeat sounding tune with a 'killer' chorus) saying it is hard finding the track on Google as you get directed to some suspect sites (I tried, he's right). An entertaining MC with poignant, clever wordplay and his trademark political wit, he jumps, smiles, acknowledges fans in the crowd and tries to get some of the crowd jumping with him but by no fault of his, at this point everyone’s just lukewarm and nodding along? 

His beautifully soulful sounding backing singer Veronika E trades off and adds warmth and depth to the vocals without being overpowering. By 'Sonarcotics' the crowd are moving with him, shrugging back and forth, arms aloft, Solareye feeds off their vibe and commences his 3 feet high pogo-ing. Some of the audience nod in agreement to his political jibes as if he is the head of a new party, he shouts “You all feeling it” and the appreciative crowd shout “aye“ back.

He asks on 'Headspace' if we wouldn't mind singing back to him “Get off ma headspace” and it's 1-2 we all do!

 'Join The Club' which we are told is about a pub crawl around Edinburgh/Glasgow cleverly fitting in names of  venues from both cities perfectly flows into 'Carry Me Home' with beautiful backing vocals from Veronika. 

He tells us this is his apology to his band for making a fool of himself and drinking too much too often. The orchestra give it a real moody cinematic feel on this track and 'Day 3' which could easily be used for a movie like 8 Mile - maybe he could make one about a pub crawl in the capital and call it 'The Royal Mile'.

Mid set me and the crowd are all feeling the rhythm  so much so I have to jump up and down with them, many sat on shoulders of pals are all won over by Mr Eye. Tonight’s set is very 'Reject' heavy, with a  Morcheeba sounding 'Day 2' and the funky 'The Numbness' lifted from first album 'Oddio'. For the encore Solareye treats us to a one man political Eminem style rap rant 'Marriage Counselling', playing both sides of the English Government/Scottish Independence argument which is absolutely captivating to watch. Very poignant, very clever and very real!

We're treated to two more tunes revisiting 'Oddio' again with The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air tinged 'Think Of A Number'. He then tells us all about the new album 'Reject' being honoured in the SAY Awards and that it is out on vinyl, proceeding to throw a copy in to the audience. He finishes with a epic tune asking the crowd to jump with him – we all jump and  asks to make some noise - we do, a lot!

Tonight I gave witness to a true Edinburgh talent and gifted natural front man who has a lot to say and cleverly expresses and delivers it through song. If the music business doesn't work out a line in politics surely beckons and judging by tonight’s reaction the fellow 'rejects' in the audience would definitely vote for him.

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