Market Bar, Friday the 12th of January, by Cornwallace.
The Christmas/ Festive/ Silly season has come and gone, as has Hogmanay. People have slowly got themselves back to work for the year, and, according to the individual, are still glowing in the reflective, restorative joy of a break (if they ever had one), or have been re-reminded of why they were so keen for a break.
One of the things that has come back again in these early days of 2019, putting the ‘circle’ into the circle of life, is standard patterns of life. Going to work, thanking the weekend by the time you get there, and seeing if there’s any decent live music on in town. Not everyone’s pattern, I’ll grant you, but a fucking good one if you have the opportunity to do so.
So it was that I arrived at the Market Bar. Unfortunately, too late for the led up acts, but right near the start for Table of Four.
I would have liked to see the lead up acts. By way of introduction, Ro Goodwin has played a range of places and with a range of musicians and bands, so I hear. I have got to see him mostly in the Love Ancients, who I really like. I have also had the pleasure of seeing him solo, but not for ages, and if I had made more effort to look at the line-up better and make sure I saw him play.
However, wishes and dreams and best laid plans and all that. It is the same for Hamish MacDonald. If ya haven’t seen him as yet, just fucking get yourself into gear, and correct that shit in 2019. Actually, while this is kind of a ‘must see’ directive, there is a caveat to be had there as well. I love his Slam Poetry, I quite like his music. When you see him, it’ll be one or the other, or a combination. There should be something for ya there though. Wit, wordplay, and a bit of shit-on-the-liver about the state of the world combine for some combination of entertainment and provocation of thought. Both he and Ro well worth a watch, but unfortunately I cannae tell ye how they played or how it went down on the night, and as such, we move onto the headliners.
Table of Four took a little bit of time to adjust to.
Actually, that’s not fair. It would be more true to say that I got into them, and enjoyed what I was hearing from the get go. The confusion and time taken on what I thought came in terms of trying to analyse it.
Part of this was that the 1st 2 songs I heard both were enjoyable, with the comparison – not in terms of words or probably intention or shit like that – but for tempo and feel they threw me back to something like Wheatus and ‘Teenage Dirtbag.’ It frustrated me a bit that I was trying to remember whether this would mean a 90’s or 00’s throwback feel, as this is the feel and retro throwback era of influence that I would mostly badge the band with, should one want to be unfairly broad and without nuance. However, in terms of working out which decade they were most influenced by, to be fair that was my own brain sending me down an insignificant side-path. Nothing against the music itself, but just the first of a couple of things that threw me a little at the gig.
Another was the disparity in apparent passion for the project within the band. This and the fact that the care-factor didn’t seem to correspond to the talent shown on stage. But even within this there’s the potential for me to realise that these are people doing their thing on stage, and I don’t know the where’s and why of that.
I know that this is a tangent in itself, however, take the bass player, for example. I was enjoying the music – really, I was. There was a good crowd in and they were getting into it as well. There were slow moments, moments of crowd involvement and hand waving, but mostly this feel of ’90s or ’00s (gotta look that up as it’ll keep nagging at me) teen angst punk/ indie/ pop thing going on.
As another aside, there was a lady that took a long time in the set (as in potentially enough time to play a whole other song) imploring them not to do a Brittney Spears song which had been announced – at least it seemed from afar, considering her being upset and walking out when they started. Again, just another one of us human-type creatures with their own background accounting for and somewhat influencing their actions.
For the bass player – well, before we go there, just got to say that it was a great looking fuckin’ bass. Good guitar, with mean, luminous thick green strings. Sharp and stylin’. And she was really, seriously good at it. For mine, the bass and the lead guitars were the stars of the show. They gave the gig the ‘hey! They can really play’ feel to the whole thing, and in large part made the show for me. The rhythm of the songs was catchy, bouncy, and a good balance of Brittney to stories about blowjobs. So… diverse but with some definite connecting dots that can be seen.
There were 7-8 songs in which this mental incongruity was going through my head though, despite the tow-tapping going on. It was mostly hung on the thought that the bass player was looking like she was grinding out the last couple of hours at a particularly average day job. Playing well, looking like they’d drop the time-card into the machine at the end of the shift and be happy to be done with it.
Now, it turns out that this 7-8 songs thing I mentioned was the point that my perceptions were shaken up. She was introduced as a new band member. Talented, nervous on stage. Light bulb moment for me to see it in another, more forgiving light.
However, the seed of the thought had been planted, and when looking at the band in this light, was hard to not see this idea permeating further. The drummer was good – actually he was really a good, tight drummer holding things together. He also though looked like he was at his day job at times.
Now, he was the one in the band who, as happens on the Market stage when bands go crazy and start doing fanciful things like having more than 3 people in them, had to be plonked down on the floor. The lead singer mentioned this in relation to Table of Four having a table make way for them. Actually, maybe not the most biting example for my argument, but on this, she was pretty good at the in between song banter as well. However, I digress.
The drummer was tucked away out of sight on the floor, and this thought – the one of him looking like he was mentally going through checklists of shit he needed to get done once he was finished, was kind of incongruous in itself. However, he was playing well, so if someone has tucked you the corner of the floor, sat you away from the spotlight, and then you go and actually play really well, most of the time I wouldn’t have noticed such things. However, once I saw it in the bass player, I noticed it in the drummer as well.
All of that would probably have gone by the by though if it wasn’t to be able to see front and centre the direct comparison with the lead singer, who looked like she honestly, whole-heartedly gave a shit about this whole ‘we got a gig!’ thing. She was well into it. Voice going into overdrive, getting hot and sweaty and putting in her all. For both balance and bluntness, the difference in how much she sought to put into the performance, and in my mind, what it actually seemed to mean to her, was that point of comparison that cannot be un-thunk.
For some reason it brings me to mind of team sports. The lead guitarist was like that star player that can do wonderful things with the ball (or in this case, strings) without breaking a sweat. Then you have the player with their heart on their sleeve, giving 110%, which was the singer. In between, there was the shy but talented bass player who hopefully will enjoy being up there on stage more, as they have talent to burn, and the drummer, quality, but when looking at the other bookend of the stage and the singer just looked like they were doing different things. I have seen a reasonable amount of live music, and it is a rare (but not unknown) thing to have the thought as to how people getting into it on such massively divergent levels happen to be keeping it together to form and play some decent quality music.
At the start of this review I mentioned that there was come incongruity in my brain in trying to analyse the gig. These aspects are some of the places that my brain went in relation to that. However, for that, the music was good. It was mainly sharp, medium to fast, and with a good rhythm holding it all together, reminding me of 90s (or, as above, possibly 00s) teenage US angst pop/ punk with Scottish attitude. Which the genre apparently can work well with.
I was standing in the pub with others, all enjoying the band, and for myself, giving the little mental note to make sure I see them again. But this element of how much the band was into it did play with my head. That is, apart from the singer, who as I say would be one of those people that any coach of any team would point to at half time and implore the others by saying ‘give a fuck as much as they give a fuck.’
The last element which is badly drawn evidence towards this conclusion is the fact that they closed off the set 20 minutes early. Part of why I mention the person who stalled the Brittney Spears song was that this came to my mind at the end. Surely you’d ask the bar staff for an extra few minutes to balance this out, to play your full set as desired.
Maybe with the new band member they didn’t have more songs to play. Maybe they had somewhere else to be. Maybe they were expecting a larger, more sustained ‘won more tune’ chant – it was loud but I have to admit that it did die out pretty fast. Then again they were up and out of there fast as well. By the time people standing next to me tried a 2nd time to induce the chant, the plugs were out, the stage powered down and the instruments getting dismantled or tucked away. It threw me, that one. You could see it in the people trying for the chant. Like they were trying to fire up the rest of the crowd, looked back on stage and the wind went out of their sails with a ‘what the fuck – they’re not angling to do an encore in the slightest,’ so that died down as well. But this is the reason I called the review ‘Short but sweet,’ for it was definitely both.
I enjoyed the music, and the gig. They have talent. One of them definitely has as much passion about it all as anyone could ask for. I think that they are going to get better too, which is something to look out for. I plan to see them again. I’m curious about what that future gig will throw up, and I’m wanting to go there to find out. This gig was my first foray back out into Inverness live music for the new year, and I can happily report that it started the year off well in this respect.
Here’s hoping we all have a good year for live music seen. This for me was a pretty good start in that direction.