It must be a thankless task being a musician. Not only do you get to play in front of indifferent crowds but you get to miss the football as well. Likewise, the lot of the reviewer is not a happy one. You might think that it is the glamorous life with a hectic schedule of champagne, company jets and the occasional bout of dictation to a secretary who bears a startling resemblance to that actress in Grey's Anatomy. Unfortunately not - but you do get to drink beer and claim it on expenses. Tonight the Bluesbunny has travelled across the planet to experience the sonic delights of Richie Gallacher, Katie Sutherland and Claire Wood in a bar called Bloc. The musical talent is squeezed into the back corner of the bar. Tables full of what could well be students block my view further.
The good news - it is always nice to have good news - is that many people are enjoying Guinness. Guinness is a very social drink in that it gets better when more people drink it. Purely out of scientific interest therefore, Bluesbunny samples the Guinness. Most satisfactory. Whilst we wait for the music to start, an idea crosses the twisted Bluesbunny mind for a new video game. A normal, hard working chap goes postal, picks up a chainsaw and goes in search of students to chop up. His labrador likes the taste apparently.
Richie Gallacher takes to the stage. The acoustics of the venue are not ideal and the sound is less than clear but it is apparent after a couple of songs that our Richie has absorbed a CD collection that contained a lot of early Bob Dylan. He even has a harmonica to go with his acoustic guitar just like Mr Zimmerman had. Making a valiant attempt to capture the attention of an indifferent crowd from a seated position is never going to be easy, however. You would think that his songs would be relevant to some people in the audience being songs about "falling in love, falling about drunk and getting thrown out of pubs". He looks deadly serious throughout and rarely smiles. Two girls watch him intently for a couple of songs - Bluesbunny though they may be his fan club for a moment - but they leave the bar. Ending on a respectful cover of Cindy Lauper's "Time After Time", he leaves the stage. Good voice, decent songs but lacking stage presence, our ginger Dylan needs to work at motivating the crowd.
Next up is Katie Sutherland. She attracts more enthusiasm from the crowd. It is hard not to like her. She has a sweet voice with a distinctive style. It may well be an early stage in her career but the promise of greater things is there. The gentle and charming "Anymore" is lost as the audience returns to indifference. Bluesbunny gets dragged into a debate with a nearby amateur critic. We settle on Beth Orton meets Eva Cassidy as being the best description of her voice and songs. The delightful "Roses" catches the Bluesbunny attention. That is indeed a song to take home with you. Joined on stage by a couple of happy looking gentlemen for some finger snapping action to "Lower Ground", she looks to be enjoying herself. Bluesbunny wonders what she would be like in front of a larger, more appreciative crowd. Like we said earlier, it is a thankless task being a musician on the first steps of a career.
Finishing things off for the evening is Claire Wood. Unlike the rest of the evening's performers, she eschews the acoustic guitar for an electric piano. Later, after the Guinness has enforced a "tour" of the premises, we notice that she has a guitarist neatly hidden behind a pillar, neatly camouflaged by the sound system. The swirling piano figures add some drama to the proceeding and she sings confidently. Clearly an experienced performer, she handles a technical problem caused by a half witted student heading to the toilet via the stage in an appropriate, professional manner. The student retreats and takes the scenic route. We like a woman with spirit. Bluesbunny enters into another debate with the adjacent amateur critic. We decide that Claire Wood is a recipe made up of equal portions of Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Katie Melua. There is a soothing, sometimes melancholy flavour to her songs. We think we recognise "The City is Asleep" but the sound throws a fog over things. If Bluesbunny were to make a movie about life in the city then he would go to Ms Wood for the soundtrack. Civilised and poignant. Those are the words that we are looking for.
Bluesbunny returns to the outside world and pauses for thought. What would be a good title for that video game?