Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Winter Tradition - Live Review

Back in December of last year I took a look at The Winter Tradition when they released 'Tides & Telegrams' and said - "They'll be one of the 'must listen to' bands of 2013".  I was right - so it seemed like a good idea for Ralph's man in Scotland, Malcolm Parry to cover their headline show in Edinburgh's Liquid Rooms on Friday 23rd August with support from the previously reviewed Book Group and the relatively newly formed The Lonely Together.  Malcolm takes up the story.....

Two support acts tonight, first up Book Group. Having read a review of this band on Ralph's Life blog I was keen to catch them in action, unfortunately I was back stage interviewing tonight's headline act so only caught the end of their set.

The Edinburgh four piece are in full action when I join the venue, all energy and giving it all like it's their own show. Instantly with lead man Graeme Anderson's off kilter vocal and keyboard twiddling, they remind me of a rockier Grandaddy (on 'BOP'). The band were all moody, with a nice blend of energetic indie rock and quirky keyboard sounds.

Next another track lifted from their excellent EP 'Homeward Sound' and we get 'Year Of The Cat'. Not a cover of Al Stewart's 70's pop classic but a fired up Alt-Rock classic in the making. Lastly for a set closer - 'Victory Lap'  - Anderson, armed with a megaphone bravely makes his way down into the press pit.

He then launches through the audience shouting out like a passionate speaker at a rally, before doing a victory lap back to his place on the stage. Quite impressive live and now added to my book (group list) to catch again, hopefully as a main support slot next time around.

I first encountered The Lonely Together lead man Mike Baillie nearly 10 years ago as an opening solo act at the now sadly missed 'The Venue' in the city. Meeting him afterwards; a talented enthusiastic young man, I was impressed and bought his solo album (which I still own) 'The Things We Are'. Then catching up with his indie pop onslaught on a small stage at Connect festival (late 00's) under a different guise. Tonight he tells us - “It's been a long road to get here, now here to stay “.

Judging by his fan-base who move
 closer to the stage, they're here to stay too, at least throughout the bands set. I witness a tight indie guitar-pop band which I believe could cater for the Snow Patrol market. They Launch into the set opener 'Island Girl - City Boy'after the intro tape, then straight into another strong piece of pop/rock with 'Congregation'.

I'm liking what I'm hearing, but they lose me a bit with the weaker sounding second single - 'A Million Summers'. The lead man sings confidently, smiling down to a girl who is hanging on to his every word.

Things are slowed down more when Baille says - “Grab a loved one, hold them” - before they begin with the country pop tinged 'Under Mountain Stars' they win me back with the slightly darker and epic (Death Cab For Cutie-esque) 'Keep A Secret' , also on set closer (first single) 'Be Strong Frances'. Not my usual taste (commercial Indie/Pop) but having said that I'd finally like to see Mike and his band break in to the mainstream. Good luck guys.

Thanks to Kate Johnston Photography
Tonight’s headliners, The Winter Tradition ease onto the stage, fire up and launch into their excellent debut album's opener track 'Firelight', with it's chorus of “Will you remember this?” -  judging by the crowd's applause afterwards I’m sure they will. Next they take us to 'San Diego' with it's crashing guitars and catchy hooks, reminding me of fellow Scot rockers Culann.

The four piece are tight as a tennis ball stuck in a drain pipe, with lead man Ewan Simpson's velvety vocals and on bass. The guitarists, Mark Morrow and Stephen Furbank make use of the stage adding to the dynamics with Furbank moving between rhythm and keyboards. Drummer Callum Mouat keeping the time perfectly while ad-libbing along.

Thanks to Kate Johnston Photography

They sing an old EP song 'Game Of Ghosts' with it's punchy stop/start drive. All three moving back n forth from the Mic's, Simpson asks us to join in for the woo-oo’s, we do! They introduce a new song 'Birds' which I like the sound of. Slowing things down the audience come in to their own singing along to ballad and album title 'Gradients' following up with the gorgeous 'Tides And Telegrams' this could be their Biffy Clyro 'Many Of Horror', heartfelt and moving.

The band leave lead man Simpson to a one man and his guitar moment with 'Black Tiger' before returning with him for the encore and most stunning piece on their album 'Nightscape'. It builds to ethereal atmospherics with Ewan creating a stadium sounding effect, banging on a large drum like a tribal warrior. A great live band with a cracking debut album. See them - buy it!

Prior to the gig I had a chat with all four members.....

Thanks to Kate Johnston Photography
Malc: It's been just over a year since you released debut album, how has it gone down?
Ewan: It's sold well,given us the opportunity's to play  England and Wales. We recently played in Leicester and the lead man from Kasabian came down, afterwards telling us he loved our album and offered us a support slot on their next tour (nothing has been finalized just yet). 

Thanks to Kate Johnston Photography
Malc: I noticed you've played with a diversity of artists over the years; Idlewild, Goldie Lookin' Chain & Enter Shikari. Which band was the most fun?  
Ewan and Mark: Actually Johnny Foreigner who was on next from us to Hundred Reasons (Haddowfest) 
Malc: How did you go down with Enter Shikari fans?  
Mark: We just played really fast (all laughing ) The singer of Shikari hung upside down at one point during the gig. We played a venue in Leicester called Donkey, where the owners are nuts, it never closes. 

Malc: Worst experience at a gig?
Ewan: We played in Glasgow in our early days supporting a punk band playing a 30 minute set, afterwards nobody clapped once. Malc: It doesn't get much worse than that! 

Thanks to Kate Johnston Photography
Malc: Plans for a new EP or album? 
Most of the band tell me: We're writing with no deadline in a similar vein to the debut, we're quite in to Sigur Ros so we'll see were it takes our sound. 

Malc: Influences? 
Band: We used to be skater boys so loved Jimmy Eat World, Sum 41, Blink 182. Now we're in to Sigur Ros (as said before) and Bon Iver 
Malc: Any more tour dates coming up? 
Ewan: Playing a festival near Inverness and some fresher gigs, we have plans to do a big tour later. 

Malc: Any Scottish bands you guys respect and can recommend? 
Stephen: Frightened Rabbit who we love and have deserved the popularity. Song Of Return (featuring a member of Admiral Fallow) who sound like Radiohead. 
Malc: T in the Park or Glastonbury? 
Band: We haven't played or been to Glastonbury so T. 
Malc: You get a phone call from your favorite artist to support them, who would it be? 
Ewan: Bon Iver. Mark: Radiohead. Band: All agree - Jimmy Eat World (still being huge fans). 

Malc: Tennents or Caledonian ale? 
Ewan: Hate Tennents. 
Callum: Tennents is cheap, I'd drink pretty much anything.  
Band: We've played Barrows 2 which was shit and the Corn Exchange which was fun but not a great venue. Would love to play main room at the Barrows. 
Malc: I start to ask if Doc Brown turned up with his time machine..... the lads tell me they have had this question from a previous reviewer. I joke they pinched it from me but turns out not exactly the same context. 

So I proceed.....and you could be taken back to any gig, which one? 
Ewan: Jeff Buckley (any gig). 
Callum: Bon Iver at SECC because I was the only twat that never bought a ticket (it sold out  but the band all agree the Usher Hall one he played previously was amazing).
Malc: Strange but honest, most bands go for first Woodstock or Glastonbury. 
Stephen: Green Day at Woodstock or Radiohead at Glastonbury.

It was a fun interview , all nice lads. I wish them well.

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