Live review: Spaced in the City at The Lighthouse, 31/3/12

The Lighthouse is not your normal style of place for a gig, but that is the point.

As part of Spaced in the City’s campaign to bring events to unusual locations in the city tonight they have put on a micro music and arts festival at this architectural museum.

The room is decorated like someone’s incredibly trendy loft apartment and the performance space is split in two by a wall with a large hole in it, through which you can see the drum kit if you’re at the right angle.

There are art installations around the room and a gallery in the corner.

And balloons, lots of balloons.

The gig kicks off a little later than planned after the first act dropped out, but first up The King Hats play a stripped down acoustic set to warm up the crowd.

Singer, Robert MacLeod, and guitarist, Alan Power, play through some acoustic versions of their usually heavier, emotive rock songs but this in fact works quite well.

Kettle of Kites then take to the stage in what is possibly their penultimate gig.

The five-piece folksters play through a set of material from their debut EP and throw in a few new songs for good measure.

It has, after all, been a while since they’ve performed and it is good to see they have used their break well, the new tunes fresh but still tight, no rough edges here.

Frontman, Tom Stearn’s, soft vocals echo beautifully off the stone walls and the double bass and trombone accompaniment are well suited to the acoustics of the unconventional venue.

The band confirmed they are playing at least one more show before going their separate ways, I’d advise anyone to take this last chance to see them.

Friends in America are up next, bringing energy and volume with a set of more pop orientated songs, albeit with enough noise and reverb to make the brand ‘alternative’ warranted.

Guitarist, Hamish Black, provides some showmanship that is missing from the night, thrashing about in the oddly shaped and expansive performance space, climbing speaker cabinets and knocking over artistically placed lamps.

Destroying props and ambient fuzz aside, the Friends show a real skill lyrically, particularly on the track ‘Growing Pains’, which gives them unique character.

After some cringe-inducing performance art (it’s not for everyone), The Seventeenth Century set the night back on track with their interesting blend of alternative folk rock.

The fact that they produce a sound so massive, and even heavy at points, without using electric guitars is impressive.

Lead singer, Mark Brendan Farmer, has a distinctive wail that gives the tunes a melancholy quality, which suits the style and instrumentation of the music.

He also proves that it is possible to play the violin and head bang at the same time.

Unfortunately I have to leave early and miss what will surely be sterling performances from the remaining acts.

Words: Callum McSorley
Photos: Ralph Thompson


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