Mark McGowan (single launch), Acting Strange, Piranhas and Sharks at The Hug and Pint, 11/9/15

The Hug and Pint tonight hosts the single launch to man of the moment Mark McGowan, not long after he recently signed to In Black records, and as usual I’m way to early to even consider getting a drink

Time passes and the venue fills up and soon enough we have Scott Bonnyman, one half of Piranhas and Sharks with a stripped back acoustic set.

He jokes that he doesn’t know if he’s piranha or shark, and keeps up a good interaction with his audience, adding to the laidback and mellow vibe implemented as the warm up.

It’s Piranhas and Sharks’ first gig and having already listened to their stuff, it could be said that, without the drummer and stripped down, their songs are missing some of the creative originality and vitality that they are becoming recognised for online.

However, Bonnyman performing himself draws attention to his lyrics and vocals; there’s definitely a nostalgic feel to his sound, he has a great voice with a slight Glasgow twang and it compliments the songs well.

Standout of the set is ‘Red Road’, an ode to the famous red road flats in Springburn with the incredibly catchy line: “no windows, no doorways, no sign of life not these days/you don’t see what I’m seeing, red road your hearts stopped beating”.

With every song Bonnyman’s confidence grows until he finally finishes the set sounding more optimistic and assured.

I’m ever more curious to see them again (as a full band) and see some of that eccentricity their tracks have, but judging by the exceptionally well written, recorded songs they have, they have the potential to blow up fast with an album due 2016.

McGowan’s fellow In Black label mates Acting Strange take the stage in their third live gig, much like Piranhas and Sharks, they are experienced musicians still in the early days of a new endeavour, which has been getting some favourable support online.

From Glasgow’s east end, Ali and Billy Strange are cousins who have been able to take much influence from greats of the past and fuse it to create their own carefree 60’s sound.

With every song their set moves in different directions; from a melancholy reminiscent to folk to wild classic rock and blues, giving them the edginess they have on record

Despite telling us that they always make an arse of next song, ‘Oh No’, with the added harmonica it livens up the whole set; (“have you tried just having fun?/after all you are pretty young”), there is a breeziness to Al’s voice with powerful musicianship, this is their best song and with a great hook the audience love it.

Acting Strange piece together well and there is a slickness that adds to the light-hearted feel that they give.

They have humour, nostalgia and some good honest truth in their lyrics and it’s definitely worth seeing these guys live; they have a great appeal and undeniable charisma, they are doing something that not many are right now and with some noteworthy gigs lined-up they have made a promising start to an optimistic career.

In the tiny basement there is hardly anywhere to move with the amount of people who has come out to support Mark McGowan and he takes to the stage to epic applause, this single launch is just the very start for McGowan with a great run in hindsight, but this seems long over due to not only himself, but his dedicated fans.

The same fans that all bring along toy guns just for his performance of popular new single ‘Bonnie and Clyde’.

His music aside, McGowan’s voice is distinctive with an inimitability that mesmerizes the crowd.

It may be incredibly pretentious to say that you believe his performance, but its very much true, it’s real and his lyrics know how to captivate an audience.

It goes without saying that most people in the room knew all the words to ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, (“…you’re so Bonnie, I always wanted to be Clyde”), there is an irrefutable buzz and with everyone singing along to a favourite lyric “bang bang”.

It is the night’s most significant performance, along with ‘Colour of Surrender’, joyful and jaunty, it brings a great close to the night.

McGowan himself looks over come with emotion after a meaningful set seen as the next chapter as he takes on the music world.

Words: Olivia Campbell

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