Sneaky Pete’s is not a big venue. A small, intimate stage hosts the musicians, making their way there and back through the crowd who are there to watch them. If it’s a busy gig, you can find yourself packed in, and like me (not being one who can see over heads due to a lack of height) sometimes having your view barred, leaving you to purely listen to the music.
But I love it. It’s a great wee venue, and gigs like tonight’s are exactly why. Three bands, all of whom are new to me, resulting in a great night out.
First up are Chasing Owls. Well, half of them at least. Ben and Naomi take to the stage with guitar and keyboard, ready to kick off proceedings. As is tradition, the first band tends to have one of the hardest jobs, with fewer people there to listen. But the half portion of Chasing Owls don’t disappoint, producing a beautiful stripped back, tender sound, which touches upon various other artists including Bright Eyes and early Damien Rice. Playing songs from their first EP ‘We Began’ and their forthcoming ‘Quell’, the Edinburgh based duo heartily entertain the early gig goers. Definitely one to check out.
Next up are The Blind Dog. A four piece comprising of two guitars, a keyboard and a box drum, their sound once or twice threatened to break into the layered sound of early Elbow, but didn’t quite get there. They used harmonies to good effect, but they never quite managed to settle into a groove.
And so to Thomas J Speight, headliner for the evening. After support slots with the likes of Joshua Radin, Doves and Mumford & Sons, and praise from Sir Paul McCartney, I’m expecting good things from Mr Speight. And he duly delivers, playing a range of tracks from his new EP ‘Together and Alone’ and his debut ‘Willow Tree.’ Speight and band member Laura James harmonise beautifully together, creating a sound which is most likely to be compared to Ryan Adams (himself a self confessed Speight fan), and on occasion Fionn Regan (who Speight has also supported). The decision to play the likes of ‘Joni’ and ‘Far Away’ unplugged pay off handsomely within a venue like Sneaky Pete’s, whilst the rest of the setlist is packed with tracks destined to be picked up for future film and TV soundtracks.
An excellent evening of new music, some new CDs purchased, and it’s time to hear home. The likes of Speight should be destined for bigger things if there’s any justice in the musical world. It doesn’t always work out that way, but on this occasion, I agree with Sir Paul…