Live Reviews

  Crawford Smith, Flowers for Algernon, Jim McAteer and Caragh Nugent live at Liquid Ship in Glasgow

Just another Tuesday night in Glasgow. Approaching the Liquid Ship from the west causes us to experience a surreal moment. Bells start ringing in our ears. Real bells as it turns out. A practice session for the faithful at a nearby church. It is a regular thing apparently. It is also enough to drive BluesBunny to drink. You can blame God for almost anything with surprisingly little effort.

Crawford Smith on stage

The great thing about a Free Candy Sessions event is that it is a casual affair. You sometimes get unadvertised changes. Tonight, Crawford Smith hijacks the microphone and blesses us with a couple of songs just to get things going. He is a young guy with a pile of that nervous energy that only the young can have. He plays with fire in his belly and has an almost mercurial presence. "Become One" impresses us and we make a mental note to investigate his music further.

Flowers for Algernon on stage

Flowers for Algernon are next on to the stage. Being from Edinburgh, they look quite strange. The lead singer wears a strange stripy sweater that has worrying echoes of France. A momentary panic attack overcomes us. Surely he will not do the Marcel Marceau mime thing. Not to worry. Instead, we get some of what is referred to as quirky pop music. Their sound puts us in mind of Morrissey - lyrics about our mundane lives put to light, fluffy melodies. With the exception of the keyboard player who smiles throughout, they play with deadly seriousness. As befits their quirkiness, a mini glockenspiel in a sky blue case is produced to add percussion to one of their songs. The last time we saw a band this deep in concentration, they were German.

Next up is singer songwriter Jim McAteer. Things have gone well so far musically tonight. BluesBunny has not heard of Jim McAteer before so we get hit by the unexpected. He has a voice so rich and expressive that we stop drinking. He is another unassuming performer - Glasgow seems to be full of them - who seems quite unaware of the majesty of his voice. His guitar playing abilities are also noteworthy, by the way. The blues, in the form of "Nobody Knows You when you're Down and Out", is handled with true feeling. Likewise with "Alabama Bound" he reaches into the song and brings its meaning out. He ends with the rather excellent "Talk to Myself". When trying to describe his voice, we kept returning to country music references such as Buck Owens or Charley Pride. Give this man a stetson and he will surely break hearts.

Caragh Nugent on stage

Rounding things off for this evening is the redoubtable Caragh Nugent. Her confidence seems to grow each time that BluesBunny sees her perform. This time, she has brought along Steve the bass player to add depth to the sound. She adds a dramatic flourish to the ending of "Pink Carnation" and seems to be enjoying herself almost as much as we are. She takes "Precious Things" at a deadly slow pace that adds an air of menace to the lyrics. She tackles "Big Yellow Taxi" with gusto. Only the most hard hearted and soulless would dislike her so we don't even try. Neither does anyone else in the room. It is an almost chaotic performance as she fights the battle against errant technology. Needless to say, she wins. So we got new songs and we got covers. We also got our old favourites. Pretty good way to round off an evening.

We leave the Liquid Ship with a smile on our face. Fortunately there are no more church bells. There is also no wind and no rain. All is well with the world.

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