The first promotion of the year from Glasgow’s Fallen Angels Club was a rerun of an event featured last year as part of their tenth anniversary celebrations. Same two bands, same venue, pretty much the same crowd although tonight was fuller than last year so word must be spreading.
First up was Edinburgh’s Wynntown Marshalls with a seven song half hour set comprised of numbers from 2013’s excellent The Long Haul and three new ones from their forthcoming Blue Rose Records release, The End Of The Golden Age. Having spent several months recording the album the band seemed delighted to be back on stage and turned in a winning performance, gutsy and brilliantly played. Familiarity hasn’t dulled the pleasure one gets from The Long Haul Songs. The crunching rock of Driveaway dipped and soared with swirling keyboards before a thrilling (and loud) climax. Whatever It Takes allowed singer Keith Benzie to show he can give Jeff Tweedy a run for his money as a singer and songwriter as did Low Country Comedown which was given a fine country rock swagger with a Beatlish touch to the harmonies by the band before it segued with a wall of noise into Tide, bass player Murdoch MacLeod’s epic squall. I’ve seen the band play this song five or six times now and each time it takes on a different persona. Tonight, given the restrains of a support slot, it was tighter and shorter than it has been in the past but it remains a powerful piece with guitarist Iain Sloan cresting the waves with piercing guitar solos while the organ playing of Richie Noble steered it tonight in the direction of CS&N’s Long Time Coming. The three new songs from the forthcoming album (Red Clay Hill, Dead Sunflowers and the title song) all bode well for its release. Red Clay Hill was classic Marshals’ Americana with a fine jangled guitar chassis while The End Of The Golden Age came across as a fine slice of power pop with some barbed guitar and three part harmonies that were excellent, whetting the appetite for the new disc.
Sons Of Bill could do no wrong from the start with the stagefront packed. While they showed that they can whip up a storm with fiery numbers such as Bad Dancer over the course of the set the balance was in favour of the softer edged harmony tinged offerings from their last album, Love And Logic. They opened with their tribute to Chris Bell, Lost In The Cosmos, a brave choice as its delicate delivery demanded attention from the audience but there was an immediate hush. Road To Canaan slowly built up into a thunderous climax before Siren Song screamed into view. Joey’s Arm has grown into a powerful arena like rock ballad but tonight it was eclipsed by the muscular rendition of Brand New Paradigm, another song that opens with lilting harmonies before whipping itself into a bit of a frenzy. With the three brothers Wilson taking turns at lead vocals and Sam Wilson proving himself adept at finger picking sensitivity and gut crunching electric lead the crowd were lapping this up. A three song encore however was almost anticlimactic with Sam and Abe Wilson turning in a guitar and keyboard stripped back Find My Way Back Home before the band launched into the chunky Turn It Up with a final number, the funereal Hymnsong ending the night on a minor note. While I felt that the set tonight was not as gripping as last year’s I was in the minority as chat in the queue for the Merch table was unanimously positive. It has to be said that the Sons Of Bill have the chops, the looks and importantly, the songs that could catapult them into the bigtime. This is their second tour in the UK, when they come back grab the opportunity to see them as they have the potential to outgrow venues like this.