Friday 25th January 2013

The Gillyflowers, King Eider, Hailey Beavis

Hailey Beavis

Hailey’s a kooky-loking soul: all cross-gartered stockings, diaphonous, spangly top, curly red hair and acoustic guitar covered in wacky illustrations. Bags of character. Very indie. She uses the acoustic guitar to get the crowd’s attention then puts it down in favour of acapella vocals with tambourine/bells and (unexpectedly) a vintage Casio keyboard. Alongside the guitar, her gorgeously soft voice – with a pitch perfect tremolo that would no doubt appeal to all the wildlife in many of her songs – and all fed through a loop pedal, it’s a simple but highly potent combination.  She uses the loop pedal with skill, creating some beautiful vocal harmonies, supplemented by the Casio keys and jangling handbells.  On another song (about the a place ‘where the leaves only dance with each other’), she shows off a more shouty vocal style – still with that gentleness, just employing a different tone. Everyone’s rapt.  Next, she’s using the Casio more again, for some refreshingly edgy industrial sounds and fat bass – an exciting techno edge absent elsewhere in her set. Add three part vocal harmonies and everyone’s loving that one, too. From acoustic strumming via breathy vox, it’s all happening, and maybe a wee bit reminiscent of Kirsty MacColl.  At the end she pulls out a violin bow, applying that to her guitar (laced with a load of feedback, to great effect) and everyone’s cheering as she exits the stage. She’s clearly got a good fanbase out tonight and something tells Limbo this is just the start of it.


King Eider

King Eider are a young quintet. They look a bit like students.  Well, the lads (drums, guitar, bass) do.  The ladies (violin, cello) have made a bit of an effort with their attire. The singer seems a bit nervous at first but he shakes this off soon enough, as they launch in to half an hour of wildly uptempo music that’s a mix of folk and traditional gallic styles. They’re all extremely enthusiastic, it’s an incredibly well-rehearsed performance and fast puts a smile on everyone’s face, as Hailey Beavis’s more cerebral appeal is banished in favour of much more visceral thrills. Midway through the set, there’s a fun wee moment of slightly comical, percussive interplay between the drummer and one of the other performers plus some vocal interplay between the singer and the violinist. Everyone on stage is clearly having a lot of fun and this is totally infectious. All rabble-rousing numbers with a real sing-along quality, King Eider’s energetic, crowd-pleasing style would no doubt go down very well at a festival. Then, before you know it, it’s all over and they are out the door before the end of the night to play another gig at a pub down the road. Clearly a hard-working group. Respect.


The Gillyflowers

They’ve certainly dressed for the occasion, with the ladies (violinist and two backing vox) and dummer all in black, singer Kirsten Adamson rocking spangly gold and black attire and lead guitarist Phil Hopwood looking equally clean cut. The band take up their positions on stage first, before Adamson makes her entrance. There’s a very traditional air to The Gillyflowers, which follows King Eider smoothly, with the whole band getting a proper, old school-style introduction mid-set. There’s also a sugary sweetness throughout, with a lot of the songs (My Boy, Queen Of Hearts, Country Boy, Daniel) recounting tales of romance and heartbreak, belying Adamson’s youthful age. Well, this is Country & Western, after all, and this flavour will undoubtedly come tinged with a dose of salts in time.

Adamson partly got her chops from studying the greats but she’s not lost sight of her roots in the process and, while fiddler Joey Pollock adds a gallic edge, there’s a resounding nod to this actually being a Burns’ Night party when the band delivers traditional Burns’ song Brose & Butter to a rapturous reception. It’s a set dominated by slower tunes and ballads but not lacking in stage-craft and also a few key, faster songs peppering the play-list. Daniel is one of these. With glimmers of classic Fleetwood Mac, it suggests The Gillyflowers’ true potential is on another level and definitely yet to be realised. Another faster song, Stitches, gives the backing vocalists an opportunity to shine, with a clap-along middle eight that’s a total crowd-rouser. Sounding super-tight, they’re really rolling now. They should have played this one earlier really, but it’s a tiny quibble. Understanding the importance of leaving the crowd wanting more, The Gillyflowers leave the best, Cold Mountain, until last, also giving Adamson a chance to demonstrate the power of her lungs before bidding the crowd goodnight. Smart, tight and boasting some decent songs thus far, The Gillyflowers are a very promising group of talents indeed.

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