It’s a crazy idea to have a gig in a conservatory on one of the hottest nights of the year, however a chance to see The Marshals up close was too good to resist. Crammed on to a tiny stage the five piece band were almost in each other’s laps as they sweated over a fine set of songs picked mainly from their fine Westerner album. Despite the heat they turned in a set that ranged from the mellow country tones of “Nelly” to the ferocious blast that was “You Can Have My Heart”.
Singer Keith Benzie was in fine form and seemed to be enjoying the show as he explained the story behind the road trip from hell that is detailed in “48 Hours” and engaged in some banter with the audience. While “Ballad of Jayne” and “Snowflake” appeared early in the set the first highlight was a reading of “Thunder In the Valley,” one of the weightier songs from their album with some fine soloing from guitarist Iain Barbour. With Iain Sloan’s pedal steel playing somewhat buried in the mix the night belonged to the other Iain, whose guitar playing was a constant delight. Part of this may be that I was sitting two feet away from him but his mastery of the instrument, his picking and blistering solos just burned.
As the temperature in the hothouse rose the band appeared to be wanting to add to it as they approached the end of their set, the volume rose as they ended their set with the double whammy of “After All These Years” and “You Can have My heart.” A brave and rousing cover of Neil Young’s “Powderfinger” served as an encore which set the ears ringing.
Overall a great little night and proof, if needed, that The Marshals have some great songs and some mighty great chops with which to deliver them.