Showcase shows potential

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The pavilion is an iconic structure with an impressive combination of history, having originally been opened in 1881, and tenacity , that saw the venue restored to its former glory in 2004.

It is fair to say, apart from the occasional stand out gig, The Kaiser Chiefs and Frightened Rabbit in particular, it has not seen many contemporary music events. The announcement of the showcase gig at Strathpeffer did show that a new chapter could be opening in the venue’s story.

IMG 6741 199x300 - Showcase shows potentialOn arrival we were a little taken aback with the layout of the venue with rows of tables, ends facing the stage, at the back of the hall. It was very bierkellar in style. The bar, though, was on the far side of the hall and set close to the stage. Unfortunately, at times, this led to a little too much chatter down at the front when acts played their quieter numbers.

First up was Dr Wook. This is the recent solo project of The Whiskys’ front man Kris Douglas. With Dr Wook it is a very different proposition to his band, less brusk more vulnerable and deeper in tone and approach. The focus obviously is on one man and his musicianship and with Dr Wook he creates an intensity in his music that perhaps is overlooked in the songs of The Whisky when focussing on the tune.

Between songs there was almost an unnerving silence as guitars were changed and the audience gathered themselves. Set ender “Grace from Below” combined a strong potency with a feeling of experimentation. His set satisfied both those that knew him from the Whiskys, and those that were new to his music.

IMG 6766 300x199 - Showcase shows potentialDonald MacDonald and the Islands took to the stage armed with the obligatory industrial sized bottles of beer and impressed with their on stage presence and confidence. Perhaps in part due to it being a “home” gig for two of the members of the band.

The upping of the tempo allowed the audience to move into the space in front of the tables dubbed “the embarrassment pit”, by Donald. He further chose to reflect that the band had the uncoolest name on the bill as well as the uncoolest picture on the gig poster. Most unfairly self critical.

With influences flying from from Bruce Springsteen to Arcade Fire, it is particularly surprising that they have more than a dash of pop in their tunes. A fact that can at times unnerve with familiarity. Could it be Celtic Rock? or indeed Celtic Pop? However you badged it, they had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands.

Next visit to the Highlands will be for the sold out Bogmanay at Bogbain, where it doesn’t take a genius to predict that they will go down a treat

IMG 6960 199x300 - Showcase shows potentialAnderson , McGinty, Webster, Ward and Fisher (AMWWF) have played in the area two or three times (depending on how you feel about Wick) this year,  and they came with a growing, un-stuttering reputation, for both their live and recorded material.

With AMWWF,  I had in my mind a greatest hits (if that were possible from a band that is in its relative infancy) with perhaps Mona , Michael’s Temptress being played. However it was striking that the band could play a set omitting such standards and yet still leave the audience feeling not cheated.

You can easily understand why they have in the past they have preferred the term collective rather than band. In many ways changing vocalists was perhaps a red herring for a band that could quite happily jump from genre to genre in a relatively cohesive manner. They gave us a glimpse of 2014 with material from the forthcoming Ep (which David Webster talked to us about in our recent interview with him) being played .

There is much to love about the five-piece and the elements create an immersive and at times subtle experience (perhaps missed by some of the audience who had not acclimatised from the previous set) .

IMG 6995 300x199 - Showcase shows potentialLast on the bill were Three Blind Wolves. Due to time constraints we were unable to catch their full set, but if what we saw was anything to go by then we were the ones that missed out. Buoyed by the quick turnarounds and the receptiveness of the audience the Three Blind Wolves launched into their Americana fuelled indie rock set with gusto. The fourth act in a well put together night.

Overall, this was a positive night for the Pavilion. The bar may have been in the wrong place, down by the stage, but they pulled a decent sized crowd into the spa village. Each set was appreciated by the audience, whether it was the wee kids at the front who danced all night, or those that took time to savour it from further back with a few pints of the Cromarty Brewery’s finest.

More photographs of the Strathpeffer Showcase.

A notefrom the editor

Support live music in Inverness by supporting IGigs! For over 10 years, IGigs has been showcasing the best of the local music scene through previews, reviews, photographs, and more. But maintaining the website incurs costs, and your support can help keep this invaluable resource alive.

Chris Lemon
Chris Lemon
A lifelong passion for music matched with a geeky fascination for social media and websites resulted in the creation of Inverness Gigs back in 2010. The aim of the site is to help promote, support and generally raise awareness of the local music scene.In fairness fifteen years of being a psychiatric nurse never prepared me for the experiences that we have had over the last few years and the evolution of Inverness Gigs has certainly been a steep learning curve.I currently write (less and less), edit and co-ordinate most of the Inverness Gigs activities.Occasionally seen on Twitter, and  LinkedIn, if you want get in touch you can contact me via our Facebook page.

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