Live Reviews

  Emily and Claire, Hercules Mandarin, Early Songs and Jane Kizzy live at Liquid Ship in Glasgow

Thursday night at the Liquid Ship. Another Free Candy session. More free music. More beer. Such is the life of the reviewer. People just do not understand the stress that we work under. For tonight's Free Candy session, the line up is Emily and Claire, Hercules Mandarin, Early Songs and Jane Kizzy.

First up are Emily and Claire. Well, actually it turns out to be Emily, Claire and Dorothy too as they have brought along a bit of extra guitar support. The west end of Glasgow is not known for having tough crowds but the more the merrier. Their songs have the feel of the Dixie Chicks or Jewel - take "Someday", for example - and would sound just fine on American radio. It is perhaps telling that they choose to cover a Simon & Garfunkel song next as it is has now become obvious to the jaded Bluesbunny ears that their voices complement each other very well. A synergistic combination that is so very soothing to the soul. Ending on a cover of "You're Gorgeous", it is indeed fitting comment on their exquisite harmonies. Varying the tempo would not go amiss however and Bluesbunny would be interested to hear what Dorothy could do with a real i.e. electric guitar.

Next up is Hercules Mandarin. Free Candy and folk rock go together well if past experience is anything to go by. Our musical strongman has a truly shiny guitar. Far flashier than the man himself, the guitar draws your attention. For some reason, he has also brought along his own hecklers who do their drink related thing at the start and finish of each song. No idea what they were trying to achieve but I suppose they were cheaper than a light show. Despite this, it is clear that he knows his way around a song and "Favourite Lie" sticks in the memory. Whilst his guitar playing faltered at times, his voice remained confident and he was a convincing performer. More people came into the bar and stop to listen. You can understand why.

Next up is Early Songs. Now here is something that you don't see too often - an instrumental duo consisting of David Scott and Scott Keenan. One on acoustic guitar and one on keyboards, they produce a gentle and entrancing sound. Instrumental music is a difficult thing to do live. People assume that it is just background music and without the benefit of hooks and choruses, the songs can seem mundane. The point that we are trying to make is that instrumental music of this type is a subtle thing that has to be savoured many times before it is fully appreciated. "August the First" - named after the day it was written, apparently - paints a picture in your mind in a way that lyrics could not. There are elements of jazz and folk in the playing but this is soothing stuff. Variety is the spice of life so there is certainly a place for Early Songs.

Rounding things off for the evening is Jane Kizzy. It is getting late so she tears through her set at full speed. Bluesbunny immediately notices her distinctive, aggressive guitar style. She sings like Joan Baez goes country with only a bottle of bourbon for company. There is no mistaking her voice. She attacks her songs with vigour. Her songs do not really go in for happy endings either as evidenced by "Best part of Losing" and "Everytime I Think of It" but they are delivered with passion and fire. Ending on one her best songs ("3 am"), Bluesbunny is sorry to see her go.

It is nearly closing time. Bluesbunny heads for the road. The verdict? Bluesbunny is well known for his fondness for harmonies so the winner would have to be Emily and Claire. Their voices work so well together that you would never tire of listening to them. Mind you, the last minute dash into the sunset by Jane Kizzy nearly swung the balance. Bluesbunny will be watching out for her too.

Review Date: May 31 2007