LIVE REVIEW – Kai Henderson, 11/5/2018

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Kai Henderson , with support from Dylan Tierney, at Black Isle Brewery Pub, Inverness

The Black Isle Bar has firmly established itself as one of the more popular pubs in Inverness and its latest venture, hosting live music in their rooftop beer-garden, is launched by Kai Henderson with Dylan Tierney as support.

The Secret Garden itself is a hipster haven of twinkly lights, seats made from pallets and a proliferation of recycled and up-cycled whisky casks. It’s very much in keeping with the bar downstairs and the open roof with offices and flats clustered around lend it a slightly cosmopolitan air. The only downside is that it’s also used as a smokers area which isn’t ideal if you’ve become accustomed to smoke-free venues over the last few years.

Dylan Tierney is first up and charms the bustling venue with half an hour of acoustic tunes. Very much wearing his indie influences on his sleeves he hearkens back to those early days of skiffle that influenced The Beatles. It’s always difficult playing a bar setting but he manages to keep the attention of those who might otherwise be there to drink rather than listen to music. The initial ripples of applause he receives get more enthusiastic as his set moves on and he wins over many, if not most of the Secret Garden, by the time he’s finished.

Kai Henderson is the main draw and while the entrance music might be a wee bit OTT  for an acoustic set, it gave me the impression that while he might be in the business of writing serious rock music, it’s not so serious that he has to take himself too seriously. As expected we’re treated to a set of tracks from the new album.

Quite often when artists play acoustic versions of songs that are fully electric on the albums they struggle to maintain that energy. However it’s a testament to the strength of the song-writing that the energy is still there and the songs more than hold up on their ownwhen played acoustically.  Kai is backed by singer Helena King who adds an extra bit of depth and harmony to the songs along with a bit of glitz to smooth out Kai’s rougher edges. It’s a partnership that works well and plays to the strength of the music.

Album highlight (for me at least) ‘There is Only Now’ closes the set and finishes off a very successful launch night for Kai, proving that the Black Isle Bar can be added to the list of quality music venues in Inverness. With the acoustic set in the bag it remains to be seen whether he can return with a full band in tow. The album is filled with hard rock anthems that would undoubtedly go down well in the Ironworks, Tooth and Claw or Mad Hatters.

After the gig he said ‘I’m already looking forward to the next time with the full band, whenever that may be’ along with complimenting the venue and the sterling job that Calum from CMPS did with sound, an opinion that we would certainly share.

See pictures of the night below;

Kai Henderson, 11/5/2018 – Images


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Toby Stainton
Toby Stainton
I've always loved music and spent my late teens and early twenties playing guitar in various bands on Lewis and Aberdeen. Other than playing in some truly terrifying pubs in Aberdeen not much came of it and life became focused on family and having a 'proper' job. Inverness Gigs is an outlet for me to quell my inner frustrated musician and the caliber of local acts has even inspired me to take my own music more seriously again. Who knows, one day I might venture back on stage under the fierce scrutiny of an Inverness Gigs reviewer! You can contact Toby direct at

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