PARTICULARLY happy with the gloss finish on their 6:45 & 450 Down EP, Anton O’Donnell of Anton & The Colts, greeted me with a smile at the door of Glasgow’s Nice ‘N’ Sleazy. He frenetically buzzes around, playing the host, as the pillared basement venue begins to fill up with happy gig-goers collecting free EPs as they walk in.
They were about to experience a long winter’s night of blues rock where the headliners shone.
Opening the show were The Rising Souls. On the back of their European tour, where they played seven shows in two weeks to baying crowds in Amsterdam, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Hamburg, the Edinburgh trio returned to the stage in Scotland. The trip proved fruitful for The Souls, giving them plenty opportunity to gig, test new songs and eh, sample the local culture. As bassist Roy Laing notes “the temperatures were in the minus degrees so we weren’t going outside much”. I’ll leave it to you to imagine what they got up to indoors instead.
On the night, The Rising Souls sizzled. Laing plucked away at the bass all night laying it thickly on top of layers and layers of smooth soul cream exuding from every pore of frontman Dave Archibald. Experiencing Archibald’s vocals live is truly breath-taking. Cathartic, he explodes at times with a wail and at others he controls, composes and growls smokily. He had the small crowd that had gathered at the time, firmly in his grasp. Channelling the spirit of Free lead singer Paul Rodgers and Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty, Archibald and The Souls came across very rocky with their new material, almost swamp rock in fact.
Playing tunes from their self-titled debut album like the now anthemic ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’ and the uplifting ‘The Boxer’, The Rising Souls’ percussion expert Tom Reed impressed. Like a possessed orangutan he slapped at the cymbals and smacked his drum box with real venom. Innovatively wearing his tambourine as a shin guard was fantastic and he really makes The Rising Souls one of the best acoustic acts in Scotland at the moment. I know why he wears those thick black rings now.
The Souls mixed a cover of Rival Sons’ ‘Pressure And Time’ into their set to good effect and with more new material on the way in the coming months, 2015 is shaping up nicely for the East-coast trio.
The Edinburgh invasion continued as four-piece The Cracklin’ Void took to the stage. Wielding beautiful semi-acoustic guitars I expected some more mellow blues rock to continue to warm the crowd up. What they were presented with though was completely different. Blending many genres and sounds the instrumentation from all four was on point, however I couldn’t help but feel they had a muddled identity and were often playing difficult and impressive riffs for the sake of it. Frontman Daniel Barr is undoubtedly a talented guitarist as is his right hand man Greg Williamson however the vocals from Williamson often sounded much stronger.
Throughout the set they had fuzzy reverb on the bass and many effects and pedals working on expertly executed riffs but it was all just too much. ‘Working For Long’ blended plodding bass and bending riffs to create some nice throwback hippie stoner rock and ‘Give Me The Sugar’ featured some nice cowbell at the start and raw, intense vocals and acoustic guitar from Williamson. If they could reign in the overzealousness and focus on a more specific sound they have all the musical talent in the world to go very far.
After O’Donnell had shaked everyone in the room’s hand he finally took to the stage to cap a marvellous night of music in the city centre. Mainly playing numbers from the EP, Anton & The Colts – Anton O’Donnell, Roscoe Wilson, Michael McGill and Dillon Haldane – sounded polished, tight and looked like they were really enjoying themselves on the small fluorescent lit stage. Playing their first headline show, nerves were non-existent for the best part of the hour they were on stage and besides a few technical difficulties it went smoothly.
Crowd favourites from 6:45 and 450 Down ‘My Sister Cocaine’ and ‘Rattle All Yer Bones’ got a great reception as everyone flooded to the front. ‘Rattle All Yer Bones’ is slowly becoming a banker for ATC as the lairy punters jigged to its country trot. O’Donnell is a astute lyricist and new track ‘Weekend Millionaire’ really captured the imaginations of the audience.
Perhaps not the best sounding venue, it didn’t really matter to ATC as they confidently paraded through their set with gusto, plenty harmonicas and rasping vocals from O’Donnell. Bluesy harmonies from Wilson were key throughout and the instrumentation from all was tight.
The gig was over and O’Donnell could go back to shaking everyone’s hand again and stroking his treasured glossy EPs, a good night’s labour from one of Glasgow’s hardest working new bands.