The Hug and Pint hosts an eclectic range of artists on Sunday night, kicking off with the incomparable Chrissy Barnacle.
Even later than the last time I saw her live – and this time with a hangover – Barnacle impresses again with her remarkable consistency and profound originality.
The last Barnacle gig I was at was in a living room, the time before that in a small exhibition space.
There is a notable difference in sound quality between these gigs and this, larger, more professionally managed setup, emphasising the fact Barnacle belongs on a big stage.
She plays all of her classics with distinctively less inter-song exposition than usual at the start – perhaps on account of the hangover.
What she does share is still funny and fresh, her voice and guitar still complex and delicate.
Barnacle opens up more towards the end of the set, sharing a story about being referred to as “the darkest bitch in underground DIY”, which I would be inclined to agree with; offering some of the darkest musical themes as well as some of the darkest stand-up comedy I’ve seen.
One song I haven’t heard before – but have been assured that I must have – explores much heavier vocals, showcasing just how far Barnacle’s voice can be pushed; hangover or no.
Barnacle’s songs and on stage conversation is always extremely personal; when this is worked into the set it can be very funny, tense, moving, sexy or thought-provoking – whatever it needs to be.
Grand Pricks is up next to deliver their brand of what everyone – including them – comment is tonally inconsistent with the rest of the night’s acts, but still brilliant.
Grand Pricks have a good stage presence, work well together and is funny, relatable and enjoyable, and deserve and command full attention.
I don’t like to exaggerate or overstate things, so I will just say that ‘Ritual’ blew the lid off the universe and leave it at that.
This is the high point of their set, which tails off slightly towards the end with the exception of ‘Don’t Vote’, which provides a hearty vessel for Ben Mckay’s thunderous bass and allows Liam Allan to showcase his freakish guitar work – on a rubbishy replacement guitar following the snapping of a string during ‘Hotstough’.
Next up is Lefthand – an act comprised of one man, two guitars, five pedals, a little drum machine and an even littler amp.
Kenny Bates is an apparently right-handed guitarist who can engineer complex soundscapes with his sparse apparatus.
The guitar work is dischordant in nice places, transforming rhythms under decent vocals, which are expressive and not too melodic.
Lefthand has a fantastic command over the sound of the guitar, playing some very well observed notes and melodies from a range of styles.
One song ends with the putting down of the guitar and the manipulation of the feedback with the pedals.
Bates makes some particularly high feedback, loops it, distorts it and brings it back in before letting it die and bringing it back into a new song in a new way, donning a new guitar; it’s soft, subtle and silences the room.
It could be argued that Lefthand would benefit from a full compliment, but for now, I like what I see.
Headlining is Jason Riddell, the last time I saw Riddell he was performing with Callum Grindle (Polarnecks, Pillow Talk), this time he is with a full band.
The full set-up produces some very intricate, harmonious and diverse sounds that underpin Riddell’s strong vocals well.
These vocals wind well through various territories, ensuring and maintaining a haunting and emotional live set.
Through most of the set, Riddell helms the acoustic guitar, occasionally swapping with Grindle on the piano.
When Grindle is on guitar he lends lower vocals to the harmony, complementing Riddell’s higher register excellently.
Every element of the band works well; good guitar, good bass, good drums, good piano, good vocals; good.
Another diverse and sincerely worthwhile concert showcasing some up and coming Glaswegian talent, the basement of The Hug and Pint is packed with engaged and interested music lovers – this is fast becoming my favourite underground (quite literally) venue.
Photos: Gary Taylor