Inverness Women’s Aid Fundraiser At The Eagle Preview!

I love women. A lot. They’re pretty and they smell good. I’m not saying they’re perfect by any means, but women? Okay in my book. When I was a kid we were taught a very important thing as boys. You don’t hit girls. Ever. Even though girls had a tendency to kick you in the shins. Well, that might have just been me.

It’s resulted in me being pretty much incapable of hitting a girl. At all. I’m not violent anyway but there’s a proper physical block there. I am perfectly capable of hitting a guy who does though. Not that that’s a solution at all. Makes me bloody mad though. THANKFULLY there are people much smarter than I am working on solutions and support for ladies who have been abused.

Inverness Women’s Aid, a division of Scottish Women’s Aid, is one such group of smart people. They campaign and lobby for effective responses to abuse, along with providing aid and shelter where needed. I’ve seen the effects of abuse, it leaves women and children terrified and vulnerable. The effects can last a life time but help….well, it helps. A safe environment and some assistance can get people back on their feet and kids can be pretty resilient. Needing help isn’t a sign of weakness, god knows these people have probably been told how weak they are enough. Being a victim isn’t a sign of weakness. I’ve know some DAMNED TOUGH women who’ve had a rough time of it. If I had my way we wouldn’t NEED people like Inverness Women’s Aid. Unfortunately we do. So we should probably help. BUT I don’t expect you to just do that. This is an entertainment blog, someone is putting on some entertainment for it.

That someone being The Eagle. 4 lovely ladies, and a couple of lovely gentlemen, will be providing some lovely music for you on the 18th of January to raise money for Inverness Women’s Aid. Which is lovely of them.

Josephine Sillars = A young lady who sings a heck of a tune and plays one heck of a piano, a top one cracking Ironing board.
Emma Mitchell = Plays a mean guitar and has possibly the finest set of pipes (singing, not bag) in the area
Jemma Tweedie = A young lady who also plays one mean guitar and also has a cracking singing voice
Sara Bills & The Hasbeens = A lady fronted folk rock group who belt out some cracking tunes, and this is where the gentlemen come in.

Lovely people the lot of them. I assume that there will be an entry by donation or buckets going about or something. Bring your ears and bring your money. It’s an extremely worthy cause and 4 extremely good acts so you can’t lose. See you there 🙂

The Battle of the Bands: The Final review

And so the three mighty bands did meet on the field of battle. Axes in hand, some only armed with sticks or battle cries. And lo, did the reviewer stop writing like this as it’s confusing.

Yup, 3 bands. No Ragazzi, not sure why. Axes would be guitars, sticks were drum sticks, the lassie from Thousand Stars doesn’t play an instrument. Makes sense now eh?

The birthday boy

The night was three things. Organiser/compare Graeme Gilchrist’s birthday (happy birthday!), the final of the battle with that all important 3 days of recording up for grabs and the re-opening of The Eagle upstairs after a very long period of being shut. A fair few of the more experienced crowd members commented on how glad they were that it was back. The refurbished venue is very nice too. Roughly Market Bar sized for the crowd, bigger stage so a band can fit, toilets that aren’t Hobbit sized. Nice place all round. Wee bar in the corner, windows make a good back drop for the stage, comfy sofas to incentivise turning up early so you get one. The sound is good too. Check it out when you get a chance.

Not to put The Market Bar down any, love the place.

But this isn’t a venue review now is it? I had a vote in the outcome of this, yet no one who was playing bribed me. Poor show bands. Archie from the Oxides offered me a quid, as did Ryan Golder. PROFESSIONALS!

First up were Searching for Donkeys. They were Switzerland, non combatants and didn’t vote on the outcome. I only caught the end of the set as I had to jump over to The Market Bar for a bit and I wouldn’t review them in this instance anyway. I will say that they are a nice, mellow rock band and leave it at that for now. Proper review down the road no doubt.

And then came the first group of warriors. Lionel, only their second gig. The first one being the heat to get here. There appears to have been a decent amount of rehearsing in between as they sounded tighter than they did the first time. They have a retro sound with some great bass hooks and twangy/twiddly guitar solos. Each instrument, drums included, brings with it some variety over the bands regular sound to keep things interesting. They also showed a lack of fear by playing not one but two new tunes (though to be fair, second gig means they are all new to most of us. PLAYING new is a different matter though). The first new track fits in with their other stuff, the second is a fair bit darker and deeper. Like Lionel’s evil twin. To start with I thought this brought with it a bit of a weakness vocally but as the song went on my opinion changed. Could have just been down to nerves or it being new. Overall it was a blistering set from a band who sound more experienced than they are. A few more gigs under their belt and I could see them doing rather well. Keep at it boys.

76 Knots, catching flies

Next up were 76 Knots, another relatively new band really but slightly less so than Lionel. In the heat review I also highlighted a bit of vocal weakness at times and thought the same to start with this time around. As the set progressed I changed my opinion on that though. Now and again a bit patchy, generally spot on. Particularly for the genre of music they play and especially when it’s full on punky singing. I call it California Punk, or Skater punk. Loud, fast, high energy. There is nothing to fault musically here at all. I’ve referred to Andy as the second best bassist in Inverness BUT after a second visit….it so bloody close I can’t chose between him and Archie. And I’ve got a feeling that each of them would point to the other one as the best, which is nice. All round they brought fun, good music from all three guys and vocally they have a bit of an Offspring thing going on really. Though better. Uber bassist Andy provides backing and lead vocals on one track and when he’s doing the lead it gets very Offspringish. Though better. I LIKE the Offspring but don’t love em, just using it as an example for your ears. I’ve seen these guys twice now, they keep getting better, the crowd loved them though I think it was weighted in their direction anyway. Cracking.

This picture is full of stars, a Thousand of them.

And finally, Thousand Stars who keep things in a California vein but a more mellow one. They aren’t goths, but I think of the sound as gothy indie rock. Like stuff you’d get on The Craft or Charmed soundtrack. They have a very passionate singer and lyrically I think they may be spot on for the genre though I need to listen to things a few times to pick up on that kind of thing. They could probably do with cutting back on the harmonised parts on some songs though as it doesn’t always gel. They are a much mellower band than 76 Knots so placement may have damaged them a little bit. In fact at times, mainly while playing, they looked a bit disheartened. If that is the case then fair play to them as they did as good, if not a bit better, a set as I’ve seen them play and they brought banter in between the songs to have some crowd interaction (something that was scored on). A solid set from a solid band who I’m not sure are QUITE there yet but are certainly on the right track.

And that was it. Scores were scribbled on bits of paper and handed in to the hosts, totting up was done, milling about for 5 minutes happened and then results were announced. And the winner was…..

76 Knots! Which is fitting really as on the night they played the best set. Not to put the others down by any means. So at some point I’ll have a 76 Knots EP to play on the radio, along with the Thousand Stars one and hopefully Lionel at some point. The winner were extremely happy, grateful for the opportunity and respectful to their opponents. Their opponents didn’t have a problem with who won though obviously there was probably a bit of disappointed. No hard feelings though. Yes it was a competition, but not a nasty one. Very good to see, don’t want a divided scene. Throughout everyone had a good time, we got to see some good gigs and the upstairs bit of the Eagle has made a blistering return to the Inverness scene. Expect more music up there, expect to see me now and again hopefully, and expect that EP in…oh could well be a couple of months really.

Thanks to The Eagle, the Searching for Donkey’s boys for organising it and to EVERYONE who played (even though I missed heat 4). Wonder if they’ll do it again next year…. And a special thanks to photographer extraordinaire Adrian Young for taking all of the pretty pictures used in these reviews. Great work man.

Battle of the Bands Heat 4 preview

Yup you read that right, a Battle of the Bands! The Eagle, to celebrate the impending opening of up stairs as a newly refurbished gig having place are hosting a Battle of the Bands throughout September, with a final in October to decide who is the supreme ruler of music in the entire Universe and also who gets 3 days of recording at StrathSound. Mainly the second bit as everyone knows the best music is Zathrok on Blergon 7. No offence locals. Anyway, here is who you’ll be hearing on the 26th of September in The Eagle. with times and everything. 30 minute sets, 10 minute turn around.

From 9, Deadbeat Poets. Not the slightest inkling of a clue at all. No idea. Bub-kiss. Will find out on the night!

From 9.40, Ailsa Jean Lyall Mathews. Dominating the poster with the longest name of the night. A girl with a piano, possibly with Greg Barry backing up on guitar, possibly not. Pretty simple piano stuff, along the line of chords on a guitar. Her voice is the highlight of the act though, very powerful stuff. My lazy comparison is Birdy for her. Relatively new, not had loads of gigs, but sounds great. Luckily, as I’ll probably ALSO be hearing her the night after in The Greenhouse!

From 10.20, Great White Elephant. All the way up from Fort Bill. They’re a rock band but I’ve only really heard acoustic demos. I believe they’re pretty new too, the BotB has been great for highlighting some up and comers. Anyway they sound good acoustically so looking forward to hearing the plugged version. I’d say they’re mellow but that could well not be the case.

And from 11, Thousand Stars. New-ish but I’ve seen them a couple of times now. Rock band, US influences, bit of a mid to late 90’s sound about them, girl on vocals which is a bit of a stand out from most rock bands in these here parts. First time I heard them, and it still stands now, I said they would fit quite well on a college age drama soundtrack. That should give you an idea of the sound, but so should the tracks on that profile I linked there.

2 new to me, 2 I’ve heard before. That’ll do me nicely. And you nicely too. It’s all a nice thing, bit of craic and that. That said though….

Scoring is decided by the latest in clap-o-meter technology. The louder the response you get, the more likely you are to win. Winners from each of the heats will go on to the final and win the prize wot I mentioned at the beginning. It’s free for nothing and there’s a bar and music, nothing stopping you. See you there then, aye?

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.

Battle of the Bands Heat 3 preview

Yup you read that right, a Battle of the Bands! The Eagle, to celebrate the impending opening of up stairs as a newly refurbished gig having place are hosting a Battle of the Bands throughout September, with a final in October to decide who is the supreme ruler of music in the entire Universe and also who gets 3 days of recording at StrathSound. Mainly the second bit as everyone knows the best music is Zathrok on Blergon 7. No offence locals. Anyway, here is who you’ll be hearing on the 19th of September in The Eagle. with times and everything. 30 minute sets, 10 minute turn around.

From 9, Josephine Sillars. Most singer/songwriter one person acts are a singer and a guitar. That, but with a keyboard instead. Because Josephine can’t play guitar but she can play the piano and figured “why can’t I do the same kind of thing?”. No reason. So, powerful voice, pretty simple piano arrangements in the style of chords like a guitar would be. And she’s one of my people, a geek. So if you like things like Doctor Who and Sherlock some of her songs have a second meaning, “I don’t want to go” for example, but if you aren’t they work along the normal themes too. Hopefully she’ll have the ironing board along as it’s part of the act as far as I’m concerned.

From 9.40, Scott MacBain. I honestly have no idea (and I don’t think he has an artist page). I did a wee Facestalk and he has a picture of him with the edge of a guitar so I’ll go out on a limb and say he’s a guy who plays the guitar. And sings. I’ll find out on the night along with the rest of you!

From 10.20, Lionel. Another one I’m a bit vague on. I can tell you that they are a three piece alternative rock band. I can guess from the bands they list as liking that they might be a bit 90’s sounding (some are a lot older than that but if I mash it all together that’s the sound I’D make). And I can tell you they haven’t been around all that long. Outside of that it’ll be another surprise!

From 11, 76 Knots. Couldn’t be in an earlier heat due to a bought of man-flu, wish I’d kept what I had written as I’m a lazy man. Luckily they have some videos so I can hear them, wasn’t able to make it to the Netsounds Takeover that they played. Hey look, it’s him from Team Kapowski on the bass! They’re a 3 piece rock band, pretty heavy rocking with a distinct punk vibe. Legible punk as you can make out the words. Skater Punk. I could name bands but you know plenty right? Okay….Blink, earlier Green Day, the Offspring, that genre. Should keep the crowd awake and jumping, it could get a bit rowdy!

So 3 new acts from my perspective, 2 I have no clue about whatsoever. That’s the whole point of this though really. Yes there’s a prize eventually but no one is all that fussed about that, they’re here to play. And it’s a chance for you to see some new acts that you haven’t heard before. If Battle of the Bands is a term you aren’t a fan of think of it as a showcase instead. A lot of the time the loudest cheerers for acts is the OTHER acts anyway. It’s all a bit warm and fuzzy. That said…..

Scoring is decided by the latest in clap-o-meter technology. The louder the response you get, the more likely you are to win. Winners from each of the heats will go on to the final and win the prize wot I mentioned at the beginning. It’s free for nothing and there’s a bar and music, nothing stopping you. See you there then, aye?