Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Forth 1 One to watch: Final 2014

Edinburgh Liquid Rooms 24/10/14

Every year local commercial radio station Forth 1 hold their One to watch ( Battle of the bands ) unsigned Scottish bands /Artists competition. The winner receives radio air play, a headline slot at this very venue and get's to play the Forth One awards show at the bigger space of the Usher Hall. I make it along to this years final.

First up last year's winner 18 year old Edinburgh lass Megan D ( real name Megan Davidson ) who provides a short and sweet set consisting of melodic acoustic pop. Megan also get's to have her say as a judge in tonight's final. Very confident and uplifting guitar playing, a delicate voice singing pop melodies, highlight being Crazy, Perfect.

Next it's local pop quartet Indigo Velvet who have been working hard gaining a fan base among local gig goers and the radio, including XFM 's Jim Gellatly. They open confidently with 80's pop sounding Love Affair, gig girls move closer to the front .The band all smiles and clearly enjoying themselves. Lead man Darren Barclay shout's " have a dance with us" the girls at the front do just that, obviously fan's of the band, while all singing along. I spot local duo Jamie and Shoony who are enjoying themselves swigging pints and jumping around at the front, who at one point shows us his Indigo velvet tattoo Wooden Pavements follows, a tune i really like ,which has summer festival anthem written in mud all over it. Melodic harmonies and spiky - rhythmic-  indie guitar riff's. The band give it all and leave the stage to the roar of I.V, I.V from their devotees. A hard act to follow surely?

I grab a few words with lead man Darren Barclay who seems humbled that people come out to see them, also he tells me the band are really pleased to be in the final. 

One man without his dog but with a acoustic guitar; Dean Chalmers is up next, who impresses with his opening number and new song When your around , strong vocals in the style of early David Gray ( I'm thinking ) The fife singer/songwriter loses me a bit with his next song entitled Scotland which he tells us is not about the independence referendum. Sung passionately, the young man is clearly proud of his country and everything it's given him so far ( rightly so ) but the song is a little bit wet for me, also a joke he tells goes over my head. He picks it back up with set closer Nothing But Gone. 

It's exciting times for Edinburgh 5 -piece The Indos who recently got signed to small indie label Twin City Records and are set to release their debut E.P titled Fifty Shades Of Blue on November 3rd. I've already heard it and being a indie rock fan is keen to catch the lads in action. Opening tune i hear a touch of The Coral with Hank Marvin, crystal clear fender action from lead man Michael Knowles, the tune ( In my mind )  takes me back in time: walking in to a smoke filled 60's club, just glimpsing a polo necked and mop haired player on stage. Jamie Gilchrist takes over the vocal duties for 3 sticks of dynamite, not as strong a singer has Knowles, a good song none the less but trouble is ahead for Gilchrist who seems to lose his way on the next number, he appears to be tuning his fender jaguar throughout and loses interest. The band try to carry on but it seems more like a rehearsal jam than a tight well rehearsed final showdown. A real shame but with more live experience under their belt , getting that sound tighter and more confident ( they have the tunes and talent ) the band could be a must see live act. Having said that; set closer Don't come crawling back to me again is like Arctic Monkeys with Mark Knopler on guitar. Could just be a off night, find out yourself by getting down to their E.P launch at Edinburgh's Caberet Voltaire : Friday 31st October with Indigo Velvet ( also on the bill )

 I grabbed a few words with lead singer/songwriter Michael Knowles who tells me he is influenced by legendary guitarist's Hank Marvin and Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac fame. 

Me: If you could support one band and one Scottish band,  who would it be? Michael : Ac - Dc , i'm not a huge fan but theve got a great fanbase. Stealers Wheel would be my Scottish band choice.

Me: Being a songwriter, if you could have written any song from history? Michael : Marvin Gaye - What's going on

It's down to final band : Kinross based Sienna to show the judges and us what they have got. Only two members take the stage to begin, gradually the other musicians individually take their place. I'm thinking this is already a performance from a confident headline band. Confidence must be lead man (  trilby wearing ) Danny Mcatear 's middle name, who oozes rock n roll charisma with a Richard Ashcroft vs Paolo Nutini stage presence. The band are all tight, work well off each other and leave it to Mcatear to work the stage while giving gentle banter in between songs. A tale about being turned away from a bouncer one N.Y.Eve is a introduction to a new song Hardway. Another we are told is " Absolutely Banging "

A saxophone is introduced and adds a nice dynamic, Breathe easier is a epic beast live, a mature and ambitious sound for a young pop - rock band. My money was on Indigo Velvet but after seeing these i wasn't sure. We wait 10 mins or so for the judges to decide before we hear the result: Sienna are crowned this years One To Watch and after what I've just witnessed - i agree. A shame for the other bands / singer but they all did well to get this far and the event will have brought more attention to their sound's.