Tweed – Hootananny – 08/03/19

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Getting caught up in the moment with Tweed

By Cornwallace

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Last Friday night, the 8th of March, there was a plan. Sure, it was a vague plan that could have been etched on the back of a stamp, but it was a fine plan, nonetheless.

Celebration! Good news the excuse, a friend having got a new job and wanting a pint or 3 to highlight the fact that they could now actually go out again and afford a pint or 3. Or at least could now handle the idea of the debt of it, now that a pay check was in the foreseeable future.

The plan didn’t extend beyond thoughts of raising the glass in celebration of the fact. Definitely didn’t extend to things like working out where to go or what to do. But as a point to meet up with others heading into town, the two of us decided, reasonably, that Hoots was a good central place to do that with a decent beer in hand.

So it was that we got there, managed to fluke a pretty decent table, which is a pretty rare occurrence in Hoots, and settle down for glasses being raised.

The band in this scene, from this vantage point, was not part of the plan. They did turn out to be an added bonus, however.

Tweed, the band, bottom of Hoots, the place.

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The blunt fact of the matter is that while I love live music, it wasn’t the focus I had in mind. That it – that they, Tweed – were able to infiltrate in and make their presence not only felt but welcomed, says most of what I want to say in this review.

It is an interesting thing to start to see or to feel a band through the actions of another. Sitting, talking shit across the table, I thought that it would be a combination of luck to see the band on offer in the place, counterbalanced against having to shout louder against the noise.

Being a lover of live music, it wasn’t as though the band was ever going to be totally ignored in the mix of goings-on. We saw them set up, heard them start, knew that the dynamic in the room generally had started to sway attention their way, even if we were mid-flight in whatever topic we were on at that stage.

Sat turned away from the stage, I could hear them before see them. I also got to see them in the movements of my partner in crime for the night. Their fingers started to unconsciously tap along in time to the beat. Their shoulders started moving a bit too. They were nodding away as well, making a happy triumvirate of unconscious interest in what they were hearing. Not paying attention to the music at this stage, but it infiltrating into the moment at hand anyway. So with acknowledgement of the fact, we turned to give them a better look.

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Tweed are in there among a swathe of bands that I have just now decide to make up a collective noun for. By way of ironic but timely, zeitgeist-y e.g. of a collective noun, in these wonderful, unstable death throw times of the end of Brexit (Stage 1 at least), I give my e.g. collective noun as a Parliament of Owls. The irony part being the association with Owls being symbols of wisdom, as opposed to what Westminster is throwing up just now. Incompetent motherfuckers.
Anyway, I digress. So, back away from the politics, and back to the band and explaining their sound.

The made up collective noun category is “Traditional ‘Plus’.
There are probably much better terms. If you know one, or want to create a better one, please do so – attach it below in the comments section, or however you need to go about it. But for me, this kinda works. The difference between such bands of course, like the devil being in the detail, being in the term ‘Plus.’ There are a number of bands coming at it from this basis, and branching out to do their own individual thing from this.
This is what Tweed do. And do well.

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Tweed definitely take their roots from traditional local music, however they do diverge from that. Not just in the music choice, but in saying that, their rendition of A-Has ‘Take on Me’ worked really well. The others we were meeting had arrived by then, settled down and got straight down into the music on the strength of this good quality cover to start the 2nd set.

For the gig at hand, mostly Tweed – this night at least – opted for the upbeat. The bouncing, jigging, get people up and dancing tempo. They mentioned a couple of times that they were hoping a few more people to get up and join in on the dance floor, but from my vantage point at the back they were doing pretty well in this. There were enough people up and moving, but others at their tables were still getting into it and enjoying it too, tapping toes, smiling, engaging, liking.

The violinist out front was a straight up and down frontman. Seemed very happy with being front and centre. Bouncing, firing up, pushing the speed on the songs a little when required.

As an aside, he also had a tendency to play while stood in a pose I associate with and had almost considered the exclusive domain of bass players in metal bands. Imagine long hair hung down over the face, bass hung low to the knees and legs like they’re warming up for a limbo competition. That’s the sort of distant spread action he managed to cultivate, only with fiddle in hand, and short-slicked hair, most of the time tucked under a hip, and without fully remembering, fuck it, I’ll put it out there, tweed hat. Yeah, let’s say it was tweed. Correct me if I’m wrong.

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Have to admit, despite the incongruity of his presence and image to that which his stretched leg stance pushed into my head, i.e. of bass metal players, I liked his presence on stage. To be fair, the other 2 on stage also seemed to me more than happy with this arrangement as well. He was putting a good store of energy into the performance, as well as talent. They all had talent, come to that, however there was but one front man, and they all worked well with this fact.

Along with the majority of faster, bouncy songs, they also provided a good allotment of slower tunes as well. I was more than happy with this. I liked the faster songs, but the slower ones added a great deal. This is where a lot more emotional diversity was at play in the music. Put simply, they could pull the heart strings as much as the toe-tapping. There was some great controlled, mournful, thoughtful, resonant, haunting beauty coming out of the sower songs, putting on display the beauty of the fiddle, as well as the rest of the instruments. The faster songs got the people up and dancing, but the slower ones were the ones where the audience arched their necks for a better look.

Tweed played a good set. It had all you could hope for. The ‘Traditional Plus’ genre of music comes in a variety of forms, however they seemed have worked out their particular angle in this and worked it well. It is not the sort of category to please all punters, however, if you’re inclined to this type of music, then you’re probably going to be pretty please to get along and see Tweed, as I was. I hope to see them again, sometime. Hopefully, like this time, I/ we will get caught up in the music once again when we do.

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