Battle of the Bands Heat 3 Review

Warriors, who came out to play-ay

Heat 3 out of 4 now done. Bodies everywhere. Serious business this. No wait, the opposite. All a laugh really. As usual these posts look better than normal ones thanks to Ade Young and the pictures came from here. This is the last set from Adrian until the final as he can’t make next week so look at them twice as much as you normally would. On with how it went.

Scott MacBain

First on last night was Scott Macbain, a bloke playing guitar. He didn’t suffer from Roads to Damascus’ issue of having to draw in the crowd as it was already pretty busy. And luckily so as I’m not sure how much luck he would have had in those stakes. Scott plays quite rocky folk stuff. He’s pretty good on the guitar, and he has a pretty good voice. His songs are fine if a bit too serious. And that’s about it really. He’s good, just not quite there yet. I can’t give any specific suggestions on how to improve really beyond toning down the swagger a bit as he comes across, on stage at least, as if he’s the best damned guy with a guitar ever look at how serious the music is. Don’t want to sound like I’m having a go and you don’t come across like that off it from what I could tell. And talking to a couple of folks who’d seen you at open mics you did well there. But in this setting it didn’t quite work. The crowd was never really caught, including myself, and there was a lot of chatter. Like I said at the start though all round pretty good, keep working on it and you could well have something. Maybe lighten up a bit though.

I hate having to say negative stuff, mainly because I can’t play anything and I sing like an amputee (can’t hold a note, can’t carry a tune). Plus I know how hard it is to perform in front of people. BUT when you review things it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Moving on…

Josephine Sillars and the amazing technicolour ironing board

To Josephine Sillars. I take notes when I’m doing this and my first one was “review her in your sleep” as I wasn’t sure I’d HAVE that many. I’m already familiar with her stuff, only one of the night I’d heard before, and already know some things that I’d write. I did have notes though thankfully. An early set works quite well for Josephine in a pub setting (take note, bookers) as she’s a chick with a piano and when people start getting a bit rowdy they wanna jump around and that. It’s not really a jump around act but it is one that people always enjoy. I say this as an outside observer as she went down a treat at Bella and I wasn’t there. Entertaining songs that people enjoy, for example fast becoming signature track 17 Hours which highlights the geeky nature of some of her lyrics, and a damned fine voice. As I say I’ve seen her a few times and know that she trains and rehearses plenty. I’ve seen some improvement over the couple of months that I’ve been aware of the act. Like Scott before her she had a few drunken idiots in the crowd to over power but thankfully that didn’t hamper the other crowd members (and one of those drunken idiots was loving it) from enjoying the set. One cover, Year 3000 by Busted…..tut tut. I’ll let you off though as I do enjoy that tune, don’t tell anyone. And a couple of new ones to me including Hurricane which is a bit deeper than her other stuff. Feeling Good type piano vibe, over all I noticed some more intricate piano work, and it went over well. All in all a good set from a young musician who is really good and still improving.

Also two things. 1) Josephine will be writing for the site and is a mate BUT the above review would have been the same, or near it, even if that wasn’t the case. If I was biased because I was writing about friends I wouldn’t be able to write ANYTHING. And 2) not every Scottish singer is Amy bloody Macdonald people! Laziest. Comparison. Ever. Not even fitting in this case as they have very different voices. Moving on again!


To Lionel! It’s pronounced Lee-oh-Nell apparently. Not in my head it isn’t but it’s their band. And apparently this was their first gig! Couldn’t tell at all. They’re an alternative rock band, because I’m lazy I’d say they sound like The Ragazzi without the ska element. Which is admittedly a big part of their act. They’d fit on the same bill very well but Lionel aren’t quite as tight. Like I said though, first gig and that. The main comparison is singer wise as they’re similar to each other. Less of a north of England vibe and way more of a California vibe to them, they have some nice bass and great guitar hooks. I’m bad for not making note of song names but the track Teenage Tragedy, I believe, highlights that Cali rock vibe and is a heck of a tune. In my notes I’ve referred to them as half way rock. They aren’t mellow, they aren’t super loud rocky stuff, they’re solidly in the middle of that. I, and the crowd, enjoyed the hell out of them and I’m really looking forward to hearing them again some time soon.

76 Knots

And to finish the night 76 Knots. Who were my favourites to win going in to the thing. That was up in the air after Lionel though. Musically I’d say they are superior. They’re a tighter band, damned fine drummer and great guitar. The bass is a heavy element of their sound and luckily they have possibly the second best bassist in Inverness to carry that weight. The weakness though is in the singing. Like I’ve said I’m crap at taking track names down but the second one they played NAILED where the singing should probably be. They have a punk vibe about them and produce a good wall of noise. When the singer is really going for it and throwing some passion in he’s great. The rest of the time…not so much really. It’s a common issue with rock bands though, not too hot on the vocal range. I think people take it a bit for granted that the singing bit is the easy one when it isn’t really. So if I was in charge, which I sure as hell am not, I would push the vocals in the more punky direction. But it was a solid set, they sound musically pretty awesome, and they had the crowd behind them.

Or did they. Clap-o-meter time. A flaw has been found in it’s armour though, don’t fucking whistle. High pitches get picked up REALLY well and if you whistle it just picks that up and gives a bit of a nonsense reading. So cheer or clap. Anyway after a first round where everyone got a decent amount of noise it was down to the two rock bands. And it was bloody close. I heard a lot of Lionel chanting, but from deep in the middle of everyone the loudest cheers and claps when it came to it were for…..76 Knots. Well deserved and I had trouble picking between you myself.

So as it stands the final will consist of The Ragazzi, Emma Mitchell, 76 Knots and……dunno yet. That’ll be decided next week. Keep an eye out as the preview is coming in the next few hours. No matter what, the final is going to be a hell of a night. Keep 10/10 in your diaries! Otherwise your diary will look a bit dumb as it’s missing some of October. Write in it that you are going to the final though. Nice one.

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