Thursday, 5 November 2009

Second Hand Marching Band, Julia & The Doogans, Esperi and Noiserv

Monday 2nd November 2009

This was a night that reminded me why I love Glasgow so much. 4 bands in 2 different venues.

Julia & The Doogans @ King Tuts Wah Wah Hut

Julia and her band were 4th on the bill. So they were on at 8.45pm. The doors opened at 8.30pm, so by the time they wandered on stage it was still pretty quiet other than a few of the bands mates standing closer to the bar round the corner than the stage.

It was clear from the first song that Julia has a lovely voice, but Julia and the band all looked like rabbits in the headlights, awkward and nervous. The 5-piece line up consisted of Julia on vocals and occassional acoustic guitar and zylophone, a guitarist, part-time flutist, part-time keyboard player and drummer, yet it felt like something was missing.

It didn't help that the flutist and keyboard player were redundant for a lot of the 30 minute set and sat/stood looking bored and out of place. They should probably have gone off and on, as and when they were needed.

The bands songs are actually quite good and as it is early days for the band they need to be allowed to develop, gain on-stage confidence and flush the songs out a little. For example, it would be interesting to hear them with some bass and perhaps and electric guitar could be used on some.

'Collide' was a real highlight in the set. It can't have been easy playing to a pretty empty King Tuts. It's always meant to be a highlight of a local up and coming bands career, that first appearance at the legendary venue. It was a shame that the band were ushered from the stage before they could play their final song 'Glasgow'.

I wouldn't be surprised if they return to Tuts in 2010 with more confidence and a larger crowd. Nice songs, lovely voice, just something missing for now.

After Julia & The Doogans it was time to hotfoot it across town to Captain's Rest to catch The Second Hand Marching Band.

Noiserv @ Captain's Rest

My mate and I arrived to catch the very end of Noiserv's set and we immediately wished we had been there from the start. Noiserv is a one man band from Portugal. We caught him playing a gentle riff on acoustic guitar, he then looped it and added on all sorts of melodies and ideas by using various different instruments.

This built up into a beautiful tune and prompted me to buy his album.


Esperi is currently on tour with Noiserv. Again, it's a one man band with a difference. Chris Lee-Mar took to the stage barefoot and then announced he had forgotten something from his van; so it was back on with the converse and up the stairs. He was soon back though, laying down yet another instrument on stage. He started with a song called 'Home' on acoustic guitar, playing slightly jazzy chords but not in a jazzy way.

His voice was calming, never rising too high. He was barefoot again and augmented his guitar by occassionally tapping on bells with his toes. He looped a guitar riff and then started adding on layer after layer of riffs and melodies. Little toy keyboards, wind up toys, water pipes, things he twirled in the air…all helping to create a glorious tune and also being great to watch.

The song lasted around 15-minutes, possibly longer. So there was only time for one more song; another 10-15 minute song called 'Wolf' or something like that. Recommended.

The Second Hand Marching Band @ Captain's Rest

The Second Hand Marching Band can count up to 25 members. So I was slightly curious with regards to how many they could fit on stage at Captain's Rest. As it was they had around 16, with some members being otherwise engaged.

They started with a song on accordian, the choir coming in and engulfing the room. Everyone sings from the heart, everyone sings with soul. Highlight of the night for me was the glorious 'Don't' with its refrain 'there is something you should know, don't go outside in the rain or the snow.'

There is something wonderfully homegrown yet ambitous about Second Hand Marching Band. It is lazy to compare them to Polyphonic Spree, yet I find myself keep going back to that very comparison. It can be hard enough trying to organise and motivate 4 people, so to create something so joyous and soulful with 25 deserves to be applauded.

The band end with the mantra of 'Love Is A Fragile Thing' and that it is, so if you find it, take care.

The Second Hand Marching Band march on.