Andy Gunn and Fraser Mclean at Starbucks, Eastgate, 23/7/2015. A review.
It opens with an obligatory mention of the charity The Kids of Kolkata Trust, and we’re off. The two men out front, Fraser Maclean and Andy Gunn, begin hammering away some acoustic blues; the otherwise frisky melodies are accompanied by the groaning vocals so idiosyncratic to the genre.
At first the crowd seems distracted, like the two men just started playing and neither compare nor the IGigs banner was there to alert the people of Starbucks to the two musicians legitimacy. A couple of people are standing watching but most of the tables are fidgeting. Maybe everyone else is just jacked on caffeine? Perhaps if I had gone for Americano rather than Green Tea I’d be the same.
It’s clear from the first note that the next half hour will be worthwhile. Both the guitar work and the vocals have such a measured polish to them that whether it’s rock, blues or folk, Andy and Fraser make their technical competence and care for the music quietly obvious.
A good slice of folk are still busy gazing into phones; the patter of chatter floats in from a table on my left while the woman on my right starts knitting as she listens. The first song ends and to my surprise almost everyone manages to break free of their distractions long enough to offer up some applause. Andy and Fraser batter on with some more distinctly nod-able blues and as the gig goes on either Andy’s vocals or his mindset begins to loosen up and his voice strengthens even more.
I take another quick temperature check of the room and the crowd are being cautiously won over. We’ve all seen that viral video of the award winning classical cellist playing in the subway who everyone ignores; this little Starbucks gig is an exception. The chatter persists and the phones are still out but more and more cursory glances are being thrown in the direction of the two guitarists. You get the feeling that those who stumbled in on the gig by accident, or just came along for the charity, are now waking up to the fact that this is not the musicianship on offer.
A little girl (Gigs Jr- Ed.) with a paper cup wanders round collecting donations for the charity: it’s certainly less intrusive than shaking a big coin filled bucket. The venue blends well with the gig, at six o’clock on a Thursday and although we’re in a shopping centre a sense of intimacy is achieved both through the music and the demeanour of its performers.
The way Andy and Fraser look over at one another, checking each other’s pace, shows the two derive a real sense of pleasure from playing together. It’s easy to forget that this is a gig and not a friendly jam in someone’s front room. A track from the Andy Gunn’s latest album “Miracle of Healing” is introduced, played and by now I’m digging the whole thing so sincerely that I even consider buying it.
A brief performance that draws to a clean finish. The organiser mentions to me that this is only their second acoustic performance and that normally they play with a full band. Having soaked in the last 30 minutes, I don’t care. It sounded damn fine to me.
Andy Gunn and band can be seen at 6 15pm on the Potting Shed, Friday night at Belladrum 2015.