|Image: Pure Music|
I struggled to get out of bed yesterday and was late for work by a few minutes as a result. I hate being late, but I think the lengthy shifts I’ve been putting in has started catching up with me. I could do with a couple of days off mid-week just to redress the balance, but that isn’t going to happen soon. Not until The Specials gig anyway.
I left the day job early and grabbed an hour’s kip when I got home. It was just as well because I needed all the energy I could muster for the night ahead. I was a guest at the Ray LaMontagne gig at the Usher Hall, a singer/songwriter I knew/know very little about other than what is on his Wikipedia page.
I met up with a friend and he introduced me to some of other pals—LaMontagne fans to a person; all very posh—and we had a few drinks in the Shakespeare bar before going in. Not the best pub in Edinburgh but at least they’ve learned how to pour a Guinness since the last time I was there.
The last time I was in the Usher Hall was before the refit. If memory serves me, it was for an Oasis gig back in May 2004, which was a fantastic night. Now, the hall has seats again in the stalls and a fresher feel about theplace, but other than that I couldn’t see any real difference. Might just be me, though I’m glad to see it back up and running properly. It would have been criminal if the building had fallen out of use.
The audience for this particular gig was a mixture of old and young, but veering high on the financially well-to-do scale. With it being and Edinburgh all-seated gig, it was with no surprise I noted just how dressed up some people had got for it; wedding attire the norm all round. And me in my jeans and Harrington—now that’s class !
LaMontagne I found to be an odd character. Dressed in pinstripe trousers and waistcoat, he sang his songs and played the guitar, occasionally getting out his “moothie”, but it was his voice I found most interesting.
It would be unfair to say his voice is simply unique, and it would be entirely fair to say it is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. To put it another way, I struggle to find the right words way to describe it. Creamy and soft; vanilla with mustard; but melodic hoarse would be the closest I can come to giving it justice.
His sound is pleasant and his songs deep and thoughtful, his manner quiet and unassuming. It crossed my mind at one point that he must be really infected with the performing bug if someone like him can actually get up on a stage in front of so many, and with only a microphone and delicate pluck of an acoustic guitar, breath and taste every word of every song.
I’ll admit it wasn’t my usual kind of gig. First of all, it must have only been the fourth time I’ve every sat at a concert in my life—and stayed seated—Semisonic, Jean Michel Jarre and Australian Pink Floyd being the others.
There were no songs that got my feet tapping, and nothing much to account for on stage in the way of movement; the songs doing the entertaining as opposed to the entertainer himself. To put it bluntly, other than one or two songs I quite liked, it was hard for me to really get into it. He loves what he does, but he didn’t draw me in like he could have.
Back in the bar afterwards I got the chance to talk more with a couple of my mate’s friends who were there; one an ex-English teacher, and the other a 1979 art degree graduate with a passion for stained glass designing. Both lovely ladies, we discussed books, art and writing, and it all ended a very pleasant evening indeed.
I would have loved to have stayed longer and talked more but alas, time was called and I headed home for some much needed scran.