Thursday night once more. Alone and adrift in Glasgow’s west end, Bluesbunny seeks shelter in a Free Candy Session at the Liquid Ship. A haven from the storm of life. Free music. Eclectic musical programming. A little magic too. And beer. A Deuchars IPA steadies the writing hand and prepares Bluesbunny for the serious business of reviewing. Tonight’s musical entertainment comes from Martin Forry, the Metro-gnomes and Salon Society.
First up is Martin Forry. Perhaps fearing small arms fire or a tough crowd (he also promotes an acoustic night at MacSorleys, after all), he has brought along a couple of other musicians for protection. Fearsome Pete on guitar and Fiery Kirsty Cattanach on fiddle join our Mr Forry on his foray into Free Candy territory. He casually sits on a stool and sips his Guinness before he commences. Seeming contemplative for the first few songs, he picks up his game with “Nothing Left Inside”. Next he excuses his accompaniment and hits a highpoint with a solo performance of “Vineyard Dreamer”. It was one of those special moments when you get to watch a performer capture an entire room. In one song our Mr Forry went from getting polite applause to capturing the complete attention of the audience. It makes the Bluesbunny pause to think of the inherent fragility of the solo performer. There is nowhere to hide. They either win or they lose. On this song, his best of the night, his voice escapes from acoustic shadows of the room soars into the light.
Next up are the Metro Gnomes. Bluesbunny has seen it before and tonight we see it again. There was magic at work in tonight’s Free Candy Session. The sparkle of musical magnificence is obvious from the start with The Metro-gnomes. They are the practical definition of unassuming. Looking like the kind of people that you bump into in Tesco, they have the magic. Charm is rare in music today but they have it. Right from the start of “One Man Show”, Bluesbunny just wants to smile and sing along. It is the same sort of feeling that you get when you listen to Devon Sproule, for example. Andrea Tomlinson sings like Rickie Lee Jones without the cigarettes and Mark Rafferty adds intelligence and a quirky sense of rhythm. At the time, The Bluesbunny wondered why he liked them so much given his fondness for loud guitars. On reflection, the answer was simple and obvious. Such things usually are. A quick look around the audience confirmed it. Listening quietly and intently, they were hearing what the Bluesbunny was hearing. They were hearing something special.
Rounding things off for the evening are Salon Society. Basically a duet made up of Roxanne Claxton on vocals and Dorothy Weber on guitar, they are joined tonight by a cello player and a percussionist. Their sound is a bit on the art house side with our Ms Claxton coming across like a female Mark Almond crossed with P J Harvey. However, it is clear that the lady can sing as evidenced by “Don’t Die Inside” and the closing song “Smile”. Quite classy, really. Ms Weber knows her way around a fretboard without a doubt and plays with passion. Other joys included the cello player losing it and joining in the harmonies on his favourite track. Hey, it’s a Free Candy Session. Things like that happen. You know it is real because it happens right in front of your eyes (and ears).
A pretty damn fine night therefore. Nobody disappointed and there was that little sprinkle of magic. Despite fine performances from Martin Forry (and friends) and Salon Society, tonight’s winner would have to be the Metro-gnomes. They were something special indeed and, even better, there is apparently a CD on the way from them. Without even hearing it, the Bluesbunny knows that he will be buying it. Forthwith.