It’s a brisk Friday night in Glasgow’s West End as a mix of student types and local regulars slowly fill the upstairs bar of the Captain’s Rest. Before long, a bell rings and all those attending tonight’s gig make their way downstairs, helping themselves to a free cupcake (and those be some damn good cupcakes) on the way. But tonight isn’t just another gig for Glasgow’s all female acoustic folk pop four piece, Julia And The Doogans, because tonight marks the launch of their second EP, Diamonds, and it is more than clear that both band and audience are equally excited.
To get things started, one man band extraordinaire Dougie Greig takes to the stage, armed only with his voice, guitar and ever so slightly wayward loop machine. Despite some minor technical difficulties and evidently nervous between-song banter, Dougie does exceptionally well. In fact, those little fuck-ups only accent that his performance is completely live and solo yet his ‘Stairway To Heaven’ style guitar solos and skilfully executed vocal harmonies would have you believe otherwise.
Next up, is that a lumberjack? “I’m Shambles Miller and here’s m’tunes.” If you haven’t had the delight or, indeed, the honour of witnessing Mr. Shambles Miller live, I urge to rectify this now. Delivering all his usual classics from Things That Make Me Angry and Beer Song to Rapture and Alice’s Song, Shambles further warms up the crowd with his tongue-in-cheek lyrics and cheerful, upbeat melodies.
In a surprising twist, he also offers a debut performance of his sterling cover of Tim Minchin’s Not Perfect. He does so well in making it his own that, if it hadn’t been for the nod to Tim (“This is a song by a ginger man.”), many would have believed Shambles had penned it himself.
With the small but rowdy audience awaiting their arrival, Julia Doogan and co. take to the fairy light covered stage. Delivering all songs from the new EP such as title track Diamonds and the hauntingly beautiful Bound, mixed with some songs from their old EP, including Borderline and Come Home, plus one or two rare tracks such as Needle and Thread and Glasgow, the band don’t disappoint as they were met with a huge roar of applause and cheers immediately after each song.
Half way through, Julia is left on her own for a few songs, which includes the debut performance of a brand new track which she hasn’t yet rehearsed with the rest of the band, showing just how new it is. The band then return for the last few songs but when Julia’s guitar goes out of tune, despite her attempts to fix it, she is left with no choice but to treat us to a special semi-a capella version of New York City, declaring it to be the last time she performs the song before visiting the Big Apple herself. The band bring their set to a close with tender track Down The Line, met with yet another thundering approval from the crowd, who only just begin to leave after Julia declares ‘That’s it!’
Review by Nina Glencross