Review: Live Music Glasgow – Burns Night Special at The Roxy171
Martin Stephenson, Scott MacDonald, The Optimystics and Jim Byrne
Scott MacDonald pulled together a great night at the Roxy 171 on Saturday 25th January, 2014. It was anything but a traditional Burns Night but I reckon the Bard would have enjoyed the party.
Jim (that’s Jim Byrne) was up first. In fine fettle having received song requests and selling a cd before he even got onto the stage. He freely admitted that he had no connection with Burns apart from a somewhat similar name. But no-one was expecting Tam O’Shanter. His performance was very well received and his new songs, including Picture of You and I’M A Man Who Likes To Dress Well, went down well. He even got the crowd singing beautiful harmonies along with Sweeter Than A Rose – it was my favourite.
Up next were The Optimystics – the four piece are graduates of Martin and Scott’s Friar’s Carse Song Writing Workshops. Friar’s Carse is situated next to Ellisland Farm, where Burns lived as a young man and where he wrote some of his best poems.
The Optimystics, played a high energy, tight, upbeat set. They had the audience singing along. with gusto to Mystery Men
Scott Macdonald then followed with a particularly lively acoustic folk rock set. We were treated to some great harmonica from Scott and his songs were enhanced by Farquhar MacDonald’s fiddle playing. Farquhar, frequently accompanies Scott when he tours in the Highlands – lucky for us that he managed down from Skye for the gig. The two together are awesome and I particularly liked Found A Heart Of Gold.
Martin Stephenson was the main act of the night and, as usual, he provided great entertainment. You could listen to his warm, melodic voice, nifty guitar playing and repartee all night. Martin’s many fans were in seventh heaven as he sang their favourites including: Nancy, Caroline and the sad and jazzy, Coleen, which I loved. I also loved the guitar playing on Cherryade and Rock’n’Roll – a song he wrote as a teenager. He couldn’t leave out Boat to Bolivia and was inundated with requests including, sweet, emotional songs like Rain and Home.
His set was nothing if not diverse – Malcolm McMaster on steel guitar provided fantastic accompaniment and Charlie Carruthers joined Martin on stage to provide some fantastic percussion with his egg shakers. Charlie and Martin performed the most surreal duet the Roxy will ever see, when Charlie was transformed into a duck.
Charlie also got us back to honouring the Bard with a Glaswegian flavoured rendition of A Mans A Man for Aw That. But that was not the end of the night – not by a long chalk. Martin owned the stage and would have happily entertained us all night. He was still going strong long after the bar closed and the lights came on.
Hope he’ll be back in Glasgow again soon. It was a special gig.
Review, Pat Byrne, January, 2014
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