A Journey To The Unknown

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Unknown Pleasures with Megan Blyth, Laurence Fox, Hunter & The Bear and Lionel, Ironworks, Inverness, 6/3/2015. Review and Pictures.

Netsounds Unknown Pleasures was an opening night step into the unknown at the Ironworks. It was pleasing that so many had made it down early to catch opening act Megan Blyth. There is a darkness to Megan’s music, don’t expect chirpy pop numbers here, as she takes us through a set of mainly original material.

The only cover in there was Lady Antebellum’s ‘It Ain’t Pretty’ which gave a welcome country twist to Megan’s set. The depth in Megan’s voice allows her to bear her soul and it is this element that gives the impression of a maturity beyond her tender years. Taking ‘Freedom of Silence’ Megan has created a stark arrangement from which she drips melancholy.

Megan though does add some contrast to her sorrowful tunes and ‘Friendly Fire’ lifts us up with a faster pace to round of the set. It’s not all doom and gloom with Megan but when she does it she actually does it really well.

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Next up was Laurence Fox. Yes, the Laurence Fox from TV’s detective series ‘Lewis’. Laurence was accompanied on stage by Greg, who according to Laurence looks a bit like Bradley Cooper but a better actor. Well if anyone should know then it’s Laurence. A bit like Lewis this set needed a bit of detective work.

From early on it was obvious that they were having issues with the lack of sound coming through their monitors. This was never really rectified and as such the set never got going. Their distraction with this issue led to the crowd becoming somewhat distracted too. This was unfortunate as there was a lot of potential especially in their interaction and harmonies.

However, they brought their set in a little short and made their way to final number ‘Mostly Water’ and left the stage having made their apologies. Some nights it just doesn’t work the way you plan it. Hopefully they will have better luck on their next stop in Stornoway.

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Also on their travels are Hunter and the Bear. Before tonight I’d never heard them play even if there was a familiarity in the look and mannerisms of lead singer Will with local singer James Mackenzie. They can be slotted alongside other ‘folk rock’ acts but that only tells part of the story. This is a strong feel of both Americana and Celtic roots within their performance and they ooze slickness throughout.

They have a real comfort in their stage presence with strong interaction between each other and their audience. Their strong musicianship lifts them above the other contenders out there and guitarist Jimmy was no doubt one of the reasons that they landed support slots with Eric Clapton.

Whether lowering the pace and volume as they did with their purely unplugged first encore ‘The Fisherman’s Way’ or giving it some dirty lowdown rock ‘n’ roll they capture an audience and it was clear that many in crowd of  200 plus had specially come to see them. Hunter and the Bear have the potential to be one of the next big names on the scene, and by that I don’t just mean Scotland.

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Not a band to be upstaged are local band Lionel who were taking the opportunity to launch their debut EP. Lionel have high standards and tonight was no exception. Lead Joshua has a laid back, nonchalant vocal delivery which contrasts with his dynamic lead guitar. This effect has been capturing local audiences, and those further afield, for sometime now.

They also gave us a glimpse of the future with ‘Panic’ a short sharp and straight to the point number delivered vocally more in the vein of Sam Smith (him of Casual Sex, not the other one). Otherwise it was kept tight with fan favourites such as ‘Souldigger’, ‘This Isn’t’, and the atmospheric and classy ‘5am’.

With Lionel finishing around midnight it still left a further three hours of DJ sets from Indieness and Netsounds for those keen to keep the party going.

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The future’s bright for this new monthly feature at the Ironworks and I’ll leave the final words to Netsounds as I quote from their Facebook page:

The next Unknown Pleasures will be on the 3rd of April, see currently announced acts.

A notefrom the editor

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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 frankieboyfin@gmail.com

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