Posts Tagged ‘faces’

It’s rare to hear stadium quality music even in a stadium these days. Bands are wheeled out to play the same old hit(s) and the 4/4 chord chops that many young guitarists learn in their first lessons. In the manufactured, mediocrity ravaged music industry sausage factory, dullness and predictability stalk live music venues like ex-boyfriends on Facebook. However, tucked away in the North East of Scotland is some intriguing talent warming the cockles of the listening public. Three bands; three big sounds: Uniform, UTN and Same Faces. Their latest playground: The Tunnels, an intimate underground venue and one of the UK’s best avenues to hear live music. One weekend saw the arched roof shake with quality tunes from these three very talented bands.

Uniform providing great support

The first support act, Uniform, made an impact from the start. A strong six-piece presence with 3 guitarists, a bassist, drummer and- rarely seen these days-  keyboardist, filled the stage physically and with  a solid wall of  sound. With strong Robert Smith style vocals and some intricate interweaving guitar work, very much like early U2, they held their own like a mainline act playing to their own crowd, rather than just filler while the main acts wait in the wings. This very tight and melodic sextet of indie-rockers are due to do very well, being huge crowd-pleasers as well as consumate musicians, uniform in thought and form.

Stuart, leads from the front

George milks the guitar

Aberdeen stalwarts, UTN, were up next and whipped up the crowd with their wonderfully inventive songs. Harking back to the days of solid rock craftsmanship but with a great modern vibrancy, they played their strings and drumskins bare, reminiscent of the Black Crowes and Black Keys. The rangy and emotion driven vocals of striking lead singer and guitarist, Stuart Youngson, sailed across the fantastic precision rhythm of John Christie on bass and Attila Kiss on drums.

Attila: drum-master general

John in full bass flow

George Gillies punctuated and supplemented this wonderful landscape of musical mastery with well executed riffs and legato solos. Their songs never let your interest wane for even a split second, with multiple sections and tempo changes- all of them pure platinum class. I was impressed that they kept this energy through the whole gig as if they were aiming all songs to each member of the audience individually. This culminated in the whole crowd chanting along to the last tune which came with a ridiculously catchy chorus that I am still singing to myself now- a week later.

Charlie, charismatic frontman of Same Faces

Finally, Aberdeen’s answer to ACDC, Same Faces swaggered onto the stage to give their MOT tested and guaranteed blistering performance. As ever, the domineering presence of Charlie Munro and his razor sharp vocals roared the clever yet brutally honest lyrics to their confirmed fans, old and new.

Gordon and his golden Gibson exploits

Rich and his rich bass sound

Gordon Leith brandished his axe and tore through the songs with the chunkiest guitar chops I’ve heard in a long time. With his trusty Gibson Les Paul switched to the neck pickup, he certainly made sure his sound had hard edges that packed a real guttural punch. Tunk Reid was sat on his drumstool throne giving the kick drum hell and making cymbal thrashing a near Olympic sport. New bassist, Rich Lewis, fit right in with pumping fingerstyle bass playing that added massive tonnage to the already weighty tunes. They all look the part. They all sound the part. The songs are great. A great band whose phenomenal music rings true with all who hear it.

To all who say rock is dead in Scotland, think on. We have three bands in our seemingly sleepy corner of the world who are ready to rock the sh*t out of all who come. See it live. Hear it loud. Aberdeen rock is alive and great and proud.

All photos reproduced with the kind permission of Euan Ross. To see of his pictures from this gig, go –>here<–

Once in a while, when out and about listening to live music, your ears prick up when you hear something new, different and exciting. Recently, the Same Faces have burst onto the scene and driven a shot in the arm to Aberdeen’s already vibrant music scene.

Formed from the still burning flames of much loved rock covers band, ByHookorByKrook, the Same Faces have had years of experience performing together but have all of the fresh energy of a brand new live act. Writing all new material gathered from their years of playing and listening to the music they love, they are inspired by artists as legendary as AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Nirvana. The songs, along with the band, gel very easily, being tight and full of catchy riffs, rhythmic power and cosmic thump. With a new EP, In It For The Money, and a very popular live gig and album launch at the prestigious Aberdeen venue, The Lemon Tree, the Same Faces have already made a massive impact.

Front man Charlie Munro believes in what he sings and is a fan of his own songs, not because of a huge ego but because he is passionate about what he does, stemming from a deep appreciation of that style of music. Very straight talking and with a disarming lack of pretension, Charlie saves all the bluster and bravado for the stage where his powerfully screaming yet melodic voice provides a forceful face to songs already full of strength and no-nonsense vigour. This is demonstrated in War, the first track of their debut EP where Charlie’s cries of “This is war!” leave you waiting for the artillery to fire and the tanks to start rolling for real. He strides the stage with ultimate confidence but none of the drama, interacting with the crowd and making the band heard.

Guitarist Gordon Leith adds meaty riffs and classic solos that feel an integral part of the songs, sweated out from years of hard graft over a guitar and amp. With the awesome chunkiness of Gibson generated chords and beefy licks, he works the strings to the advantage of the overall dynamic of the group while clearly enjoying the ride himself. His big influence of Zeppelin shines through and he does Jimmy Page proud with the way he handles the weighty guitar parts, as can be heard in spades on War and Better Quit Now.

Bassist Neil McDonald is one of those rare four string specialists who can keep up with the guitarist and drummer in equal measure. His booming basslines manage to boost the guitar parts as well as enhance the thump of the kick drum. Neil is adept at fingerstyle bass playing which is hard enough in a soft jazz trio let alone a storming rock foursome. Neil is a solid member of the crew, acting as the cement holding the songs together while providing a melody much more ear catching than the usual plodding bass notoriety you see in other well established bands.

Drummer Tunk Reid takes the art of percussion and imposes it on you with split-second timing, ear-shattering volume and hair-raising precision. Tunk is a drummer that every band would dream of having as he provides a huge solid base for the weighty songs to play on. He is also skilled in the sort of stop-start drumming that gives a lot of the Same Faces songs their character, being more than  just a drum machine but a real musician contributing to the overall soul of the music.

Their sensational live performance at the Lemon Tree and in studio sessions during an interview, prove that they are a force to be reckoned with locally, nationally and potentially internationally. As Charlie said:

“We don’t want to play to the opening of an envelope…. We want every gig to be an event.”

The Same Faces certainly were an event on that night and are a huge event themselves, making a big difference to the listening public and the state of modern rock music.

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For a behind the mic interview with the Same Faces click here ↓

Click –>here<– for the Same Faces website

Click –>here <– to join the Same Faces on samefacebook

Saturday night TV talent shows are nothing new. When I was 4 ft tall and surviving on regular parental handouts and penny chews, New Faces and Opportunity Knocks were the stolid fare served up on 2 of the only 3 existing channels. The whole family, pets included, sat around the bulging screen, our eyes drawn to the cathode rays like cold hands to a campfire. These were simpler, innocent times where executive producers had yet to discover flashy graphics, jump cuts to posing judges and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Copyright issues?

In danger of sounding like a cantankerous old naysayer (which is only a half truth), talent contests these days are an edgier and more sinister affair. The public are set up on 3- minute pedestals, very high in prime-time terms, and are then either prodded off the perch or exalted to higher planes (the next round) by rich flippant narcissists whose belt-line height or make-up bill far exceeds their intelligence.

Flangepiece

A tired Simon gives the big thumbs down to yet another pasty-faced wannabe

The worst offender is X-Factor, the brainspawn of pop sweatshop propietor, Simon “Irritable” Cowell. If there were shares in false hope, this show would be providing them in spades to line retired bankers’ deep, disused fur-trimmed pockets. The show is at best distasteful and at worst morally reprehensible for several reasons.

Firstly, music is not the priority of the show: entertainment is. Fine, if music is an integral or over-riding facet but the opening credits set the scene by not featuring any of the artists, only a flying “X” from another planet, presumably returning from self-imposed exile after yet another dire series. The auditions are often unaccompanied by any instrumentation and self-penned songs are rarely featured. Vocal imperfection is outlawed like some musical eugenics programme while warbling, pitch-perfect drones flounce into the upper echelons of the next round: very discouraging for those real character-driven singers watching or participating. Imagine the future without any more Ian Durys, Sean Ryders or Ian Browns- not famed for their singing but wonderful performers all the same.

The show also promotes the idea of music as a facile passport to fame and fortune. This is not why I’m a musician. Sure, I need to exist on a living wage but this small sum of money is a consequence of, not a reason for, what I do. If I had eyes like [$_$] when I wrote songs, they would be radically different as the creative process would be stifled by the pressure to be financially viable. This happens in other professions too, notably journalism- with populist, celebrity-driven claptrap in place of thought provoking and emotive articles.

Acrostics in action

Judge Dread

On top of all this there is the freak-show mentality of the viewers and producers alike: let’s see fools fall and make ourselves feel better and richer in the process. Pointing and laughing at these deluded hopefuls demeans all involved. Is there a difference between slating a poor soul who was born without Mariah Carey’s vocal chords and sounding off at a wannabe can-can dancer with only one-and-a-half legs? [How long before this gets broadcast?]

All of the above “factors” are self perpetuating, with each series consolidating the need for another by conditioning the audience and auditionees to be open to more of the same treatment. Indeed many of those vying to be King or Queen of Saturday Night Telly are repeat offenders, much like the viewers. The  public deserve better and even with (at least) 70 other channels available, many with a better programming schedule, they are still drawn to this tawdry circus.

I may be repeating tired old opinion but this programme is still on the air and pulling in millions of viewers. This alone does not justify its continued existence. Popularity does not underpin morality. Take the News Of The World, the most popular newspaper in the UK, morally and legally corrupt and now shut down. I am still waiting for the same fate for X-Factor. Let’s put this show, and as a consequence its contestants and viewers, out of its misery.