And the winner is….

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January can be a quiet month in a lot of bars as people feel the pinch after the festive season. The Eagle Bar bucked that trend by putting on a Battle of the Bands competition which culminated in its final on 31 January in front of a packed house, with even a queue forming outside.

With an impressive prize on offer which included the recording of a single, the making of a video, and entry into a national Battle of the Bands Final competition was intense throughout January. The three acts to make their way through the earlier rounds covered a broad spectrum with Seed of Sorrow laying it out for death metal through Bite Night who held the middle ground, and Cryptic Keys who had a commercial, vocally intensive sound.

 With each act being given half an hour, the battle commenced with the onslaught of Seed of Sorrow. With the ‘stage’ area set at the back of the bar at floor level it gave them the opportunity to interact with those up close. It was a loose rein in which to ensnare the audience and drive their juggernaut through the Eagle Bar leaving nothing in their wake. Death metal may not be my bag but you could not deny their presence and energy. They are not subtle, but that is very much their appeal. As an opening act they set a standard for the those that were to follow.

After a break for everyone to get their breath back, refill their glasses, and let the band pack up, Bite Night were next to enter the fray. In common with the other acts they had also brought along their own set of followers who made their way to the front. Bite Night, after an initial technical hiccup, hit the ground running and took up the challenge with their brand of guitar infused pop/rock.

There is a real mix of influences with the guitars hinting to Dire Straits, and a touch of Thin Lizzy when the vocals drift towards a casual Phil Lynott delivery. However, the end of the set drifts into jaunty indie pop just to add a little bit of variation. Bite Night have come a long way in a short period of time.

Final act of the night were Cryptic Keys. As a stripped back vocal acoustic trio, the bear pit atmosphere of the Eagle in many ways should have acted against them. But once into their stride the great vocal combinations of Dail and Rhia hit the spot with their small army of fans, and also many of the other bands’ followers too.

They have a highly commercial sound, and they welcomed the crowd singing along. This was understandable as they write catchy tunes and were a fine way to round off a night, and giving the judging panel something to think about.

Following a short break the judges conferred and Toby Michaels delivered, what he said was a very difficult decision, their verdict, and Seed of Sorrow were crowned Battle of the Bands winners for 2014.

A successful night for Seed of Sorrow, but it was also a success for the organisers, the Eagle Bar and the acts that took part throughout the month in an event which has gone towards helping the venue establish itself in the local music scene.

Photos by Graham Mackenzie

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Frank Finlayson
Frank Finlayson
Chartered surveyor by day, music reviewer by night, and occasionally I get to use my camera. A strange mix, but one that I enjoy. A chance meeting in the queue for Bella in 2010 led to the opportunity to write for InvernessGigs; a far cry from the days of writing for a football fanzine back in the late 80s, early 90s. My interests lie between the mainstream, the emerging and the local. Increasingly I find that we have more than enough locally to entertain us to necessitate a trip south. I’m always happy to give a listen, whatever the genre. Inverness has a plethora of talent, all of which I am more than keen to write about. If it encourages just one person to make the effort to listen to some new music I’ll be happy. You can contact Frank direct via

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