Stereo was the venue for the latest A Quiet Night In – a “mini music festival” aiming to put together some of the best line-ups of new Scottish bands – with Brown Bear and the Bandits playing their debut Glasgow headline show, and a top supporting cast pulling the punters to Renfield Lane.
First up was Fole, an alternative-acoustic act consisting of guitar, xylophone and percussion, and an additional female vocal for the evening, which definitely helped to create a fuller sound. Their summery vibes gave me the feeling that with a bit of time and exposure they could have quite a few sing-along’s on their hands.
Michael Cassidy followed and played a number of songs from his forthcoming debut album; the Paisley singer-songwriter is someone I have seen several times before and have always enjoyed, and he impressed once again.
A very Spanish-feeling opener grabbed my attention immediately, with Cassidy’s strong vocal holding it for the remainder of his time on stage. A rather noisy crowd did little to taper my enjoyment, with Everybody’s Scared being the highlight of a confident set.
Next were eight-piece folk/indie/pop outfit Randolph’s Leap. With a collection of delightfully catchy, witty songs they made an immediate impression, incorporating brass and strings into more traditional folk elements to create a much more interesting sound.
However, the set’s highlight was a solo effort from frontman Adam Ross about becoming an over-the-phone psychic, which included what is surely one of my favourite lyrics of all time, “I went for pakora with Derek Acorah”.
Despite the humour the band have some seriously good songs. As the band mentioned themselves, they may be a bit twee for some but they are a very good live band, and if their onstage dancing is anything to go by then it appears to be a very fun band to be in as well. Tonight was my first encounter of Randolph’s Leap and it certainly won’t be my last.
Finally, headliners Brow Bear & the Bandits who as well as playing their first headline show were also launching the Truth or Dare EP, meaning this was a big night for the band. As they arrived on stage they immediately burst into their own brand of up tempo Celtic influenced rock. Matt Hickman’s at times gruff vocal lead the band through an energetic set while Stewart MacArthur’s bass lines provided an excellent, powerful groove throughout.
The instrumental interlude Celtic Jam went down a storm, and this is when the band really excels – when they’re jumping around the stage, getting lost in their upbeat, folky moments.
However, the Ayrshire band have much more to offer than just up tempo folk. Songs like War of Loves and The Chase are ready made for radio with pop hooks to spare.
An energetic set came to a thumping close with an encore of the EP’s title track Truth or Dare. On this showing Brown Bear & the Bandits reputation as a great live act and a talented new band will only continue to grow.
Review by Scott Logan