By now you may have heard of the Oxjam Aberdeen Takeover 2011 if you’ve been reading this site or are resident in Aberdeen, but if you somehow missed out on the event or have no idea what it is/was (shame on you!), then what follows is a brief synopsis. Oxjam is essentially the ‘musical arm’ of the renowned charity Oxfam, something we’ve surely all heard of. On Saturday the 22nd of October, 2011, Oxjam put on the Aberdeen Takeover 2011, which basically meant they set up gigs in four venues in Aberdeen to raise money for charity. The four venues were Snafu, Café Drummonds, Tunnels 2, and The Blue Lamp, the venue to which I was posted for reviewing purposes. So to the review we go!
The Blue Lamp is known around Aberdeen for leaning towards the more acoustic and folk side of music, and indeed that theme was to upheld somewhat for the Oxjam Aberdeen Takeover 2011 (from now on referred to as the OAT11 as I can’t be arsed typing it all out anymore). The Blue Lamp is a cracking rustic style pub, with soft lighting and even candles on some tables, with wood aplenty (no, not that kind, the actual kind, i.e. from trees). It could be described as ‘warm’ in atmosphere. That’s not a slight against the pub. Anyway, upon entering this fine establishment for a night of musical merriment, I was greeted by the very enthusiastic and lovely Oxjam volunteers, who had been on the go all day yet were still buzzing. Top play to them. After some quick and rather witty chit chat, I took my place at the bar, beer in hand, where I met my rather more glamorous ASR colleague Lucie Douglas. There were to be four bands playing that evening, the first due on at half 7, although we all know that bands never actually go on at the time they’re billed to.
The first band of the night came on at 8pm. They were billed as Jamie Rodden, but Jamie himself told us they’re now The Fool’s Reel. A fine name I must say. And a fine band. They were a great way to open the musical proceedings, replete with fiddle, sounding rather like a more acoustic Arcade Fire crossed with The Waterboys. And they showed they can deal with all sorts, when just a couple of songs in a string broke on the guitarist’s guitar (well clearly). Whilst he fixed it, the drummer revealed that he perhaps may one day join Mastodon as he gave the audience a crushing drum solo. Top stuff. Guitar string fixed, the band ploughed on, only for catastrophe to strike again when the guitar string broke once more. This time we were treated to a fiddle solo, which at first sounded suspiciously like the tune Sir Robin’s minstrels play in the Monty Python film ‘The Holy Grail’ about Brave Sir Robin running away, but then turned out to be more toe tapping, earning full audience participation with everyone clapping along. Sadly due to time constraints that was it for The Fool’s Reel/Jamie Rodden. Still, a fine start to OAT11 at The Blue Lamp.
Next up we had Craig John Davidson, a local musician, armed with just his acoustic guitar and a friend on drums who he introduced to the audience as ‘Paul’. Oh and some rather fantastic bright green trainers. With a musical style that sounded at times like a more acoustic Doors or a toned down Interpol, Craig John Davison is clearly a very talented songwriter, as highlighted on tracks such as ‘All In Song’, ‘Here But Never There’ and his set closer ‘Way’, but at times it feels like he could do with a more beefed up sound, with a couple of tracks even seemingly crying out for some funky bass. Still, this was a very enjoyable and accomplished performance from a very hard working performer who can be seen at most of Aberdeen’s venues on a frequent basis. Go check him out one night.
Following on, Dearstalker were the next band to take to the stage as the venue became busier. The band were comprised of three members, with a guitarist, bassist and singer/percussionist being the three. If percussionist sounds like a derogatory term, it’s not. It’s simply the best way of describing what he did/does. At times playing bongos and other times playing an acoustic box (look it up if you don’t know what that is), it added a very unique feel to the band’s acoustic driven tunes and a very comforting beat. Dearstalker more than any other band of the evening represented the folk and acoustic feel of the venue, with a laid back vibe that was juxtaposed with tight and precise musicianship, a particular highlight being ‘Energy’. Only their set closer contained any vocals, which was something of a surprise when the vocalist opened his pipes, as he’s got a rather good voice. Still, another fine band, even if their set was the shortest of the night.
And so to the headliners, The Lorelei. Rumours that they are named after the character of the same name from ‘Gilmore Girls’ are utterly false and were invented by me, although Lucie thought there might have been something in it. With a kilt clad electric ukulele player, how could they fail?! And so it proved, as they showed why they were the (very deserving) headliners with a storming ferocious set that had the venue rocking. Playing like a punk Runrig melded with Rocket From The Crypt, they launched into opener ‘Home’ by demanding that the, by now very large, audience howl. Many obliged. More than any other band of the evening, The Lorelei really got the venue bouncing. The lead singer, looking like a beefier and punkier Olly Murs complete with tambourine in hand, really engaged the audience, asking us ‘Do you feel celtic?!’ before demanding that we tap our legs or, for those who have none, their prosthesis (nice to see inclusion) to what he described as a ‘drinking song’, which was a breakneck tune. Props must go to the old school punk down front who was skanking all night (look up what that means too; it’s a style of dance in case you Google the wrong thing). They ripped through their set, regaling us with what they termed as ‘a country song’ that sounded like The Pogues on speed. The only respite came when they announced the winner to the ‘Guess The Number Of Sweets’ competition the OAT11 folk had put on. But with everyone just about catching their breath, The Lorelei steamed into their set closer ‘Worthington’, with the kilted ukulele player switching to fiddle. A storming tune that got the entire bar up and moving, even your reviewers, it was a fantastic song to close a fantastic set and a fantastic evening of live music at the Blue Lamp. The old school punk even got a dancing partner. The Lorelei stormed the Blue Lamp and are another band you should really check out. Utterly brilliant stuff.
And so it was to Tunnels 2, where we managed to catch the end of the fantastic Taco And The Sharpies’ set, before the after party. Which was terrifically good fun, involving some ludicrous dancing and some liver punishing drinking, all to a musically thrilling backdrop of DJ’s Ali Welsh and Steve Milne. All in all, an excellent night full of cracking live music, beer, dancing and good laughs, all of which was for a great cause. If you weren’t there, have a word. And perhaps we’ll see you next year.