The Balladeers
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The Balladeers

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Blues Classic Rock

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"The Balladeers, Fear The Fives - Glasgow Podcart"

Coming hard on the heels of last weeks extraordinary gig at Bloc where Arca Felix, Bronto Skylift and Hey Vampires manually disassembled my higher brain functions through their battering ram performances, I was looking forward to an evening of psychedelic sound waves and lustful pop provided by the Balladeers and Fear The Fives but as the songs says, you can’t always get what you want, I most definitely got what I needed.

The Balladeers stepped in at the last minute to play last night and in fact it was so last minute they had to play minus multi instrumentalist Sean Fitzharris. Anyone who has seen The Balladeers live will know two things. Number one, The Balladeers are wildly inconsistent, easily veering from psychedelic folk genius to a total stramash. And two, Sean Fitzharris provides the flourishes to the cerebral brush strokes laid down by the rest of the band, however The Balladeers played as a 3 piece for some time before Sean joined so the question was, could they hack it as a three piece?

The answer last night was an unreserved yes! Ruraidh MaCleod played as tight and taught a set on the drums as I have ever seen. Jackson Scott blasted through the songs at pace and appeared to be enjoying himself immensely and Gav Troon battered his bass in a metronomic, stomping assault on the senses. The Balladeers were tight, looked as if they had fun and played with an aggressive restraint that had everyone in the audience appreciably stunned. There were obvious changes to the normal Balladeers set that facilitated Sean’s absence, but a welcome new song reminiscent of ABBA at their most impressively poignant was also road tested to great success. With a successful gig in Captains Rest only a couple of days previously under their belts, The Balladeers may be finally displaying the kind of consistency that will push them onto the next level. Bonkers slabs of psychedelia played by a band totally in control of what they are doing? Now that is something worth having in your record collection.

Fear The Fives are simply devastating. This was my second time catching ‘The Fives’ and they appeared to have raised the bar considerably from their last gig in The Captain’s Vest supporting French Wives. It’s hard to describe exactly what the music sounds like but like all the best music it’s derivatives are possibly apparent yet the finished product sounds strangely unique. Charlie Milne’s deep baritone vocals and staccato piano playing stab at pop music’s dark heart while around him the remaining ‘Fives’ produce music that ascends and pulsates with a thrilling accuracy. This is not simple, easily digestible music and it certainly isn’t music that will wash over you to remain in the background like a humming electrical appliance. This is music that demands your attention performed by a band who appear totally in sync with not only each other, but the nuts and bolts of each descending minor chord and every awkward time signature. If Nick cave was in Muse and they played Kurt Weill songs in Tom Waits bar, then this is what it might sound like. Strange, powerful and complicated, Fear The Fives are a five course meal for people sick of eating fast food.

Sean McCann

sean@glasgowpodcart.com

http://www.myspace.com/theballadeersrock

http://www.myspace.com/fearthefives - Glasgow Podcart


"The Balladeers & Friends @ Macsorley's"

The Balladeers’ monthly residency at Macsorley’s, in what used to be the hugely successful Psychedelic Ballroom, has at times seen the music bar transformed into a hallucinogenic wonderland, with cryptic acid-tinged decorations and mind-blowing psychedelic sounds reverberating across the room. The Ballroom has now morphed into The Balladeers and Friends, and although the dynamic feeling of swinging London has been somewhat diluted, you can still roll on down and dig the kind of beats you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in Glasgow on a regular basis. When the beautiful people come out to play, strange 1960’s influences can be seen from one wall to the next, adding authenticity to near-perfect musicianship cobbled together from an astoundingly diverse range of influences that will make your head spin.

Although the number of flower power dresses was at an all time low, this particular evening saw a stellar set from singer/guitarist Jackson Scott, bassist Gav Troon and drummer Ruaraidh MacLeod. They are surely one of the best new bands to emerge from Scotland, and it’s a great shame that many of the patrons on this occasion did not appreciate fully the spectacle before them.

To the music: how to explain it? It’s a multicoloured orgasm of 1960’s splendour. Their would-be hit single Her Favourite Game jigged happily along to a catchy merry-go-round beat. A few ramshackle moments early on did nothing to dent the excitement and originality of the rollicking licks and burgeoning medieval sentiment of the music. Each song played would surely grace a number of albums and carry them to classic status if released.

Johanna Flanagan then joined the band for three songs. Casually leaning on a chair, she exuded a comfortable onstage presence whilst adding a new dimension to Balladeers favourite, Some Nights. Her versatile voice helped the boys steamroll through Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit, arguably the pinnacle of the set. Thankfully, an appreciative audience now gathered before the stage, which had an electrifying effect on the band who sought to right a previous wrong by repeating Back To The Start, now affording it proper treatment (it felt as if storm clouds had gathered over a happy medieval fare; knights and Renaissance ladies and peasants left dumfound and deafened by the preternatural sounds; the heavens themselves lending an ear through majestic spaces between the thunder, rain and lightning…). It contains a guitar riff that’s up there with the best of them, perfectly driven through with the flair of Troon’s flourishing bass and MacLeod’s drumming, which is a highly entertaining spectacle of athletic mad genius. The musicianship was tight and one could see an interesting web of influences emerge, from Zappa to Beethoven.

When the Balladeers are at their best, there’s no competition, and the lack of psychedelic club nights in Glasgow surely affords them an unmissable opportunity to succeed in driving home their unique artistic vision. If you see them around, don’t ever miss them.

Matthew Dickson, the Strathclyde Telegraph - Strathclyde Telegraph


"The Balladeers (The Goldheart Assembly) King Tuts Tuesday 10th March"

Tuesday night and after a celebratory pint the night before with the newest members of the podcART team it was on to Kung Tits and ‘The Balladeers’. If you haven’t heard the band before then it is almost impossible to describe them. They have a bluesy quality reminiscent of The Doors and with multi-instrumentalist Sean Fitzharris’ meandering organ parts there is an essence of the Kurt Weill influence that shaped Doors ditty Alabama Song, but trying to nail what a Balladeers song sounds like is much like describing the weather in Glasgow, ever changeable! Give the song a few seconds and it will speed into a ska riff or break into an almost apoplectic crescendo of thunderous bass and crashing cymbals. This is easily one of the loudest bands you will ever hear and there is hardly a distorted guitar in sight!! All this noise is underpinned by Jackson Scott’s breathy, dead pan delivery and subtle guitar lines. Jackson’s fingers are perpetual motion, at times a blur of activity that seem impossible to reconcile with the sound produced through his amplifier. Blues turns to folk turns to other as violins are thrown into the mix of ever-changing rhythms and directions. Songs very rarely go in the expected direction but they always end up in a place reminiscent of where they began.

A special mention has to come to the walking bass lines of Gavin ‘Gav’ Troon and drums of Ruaraidh Macleod who between them produce a pulsating rattle of deep bluesy beats that are as infectious as they are startling. If you close your eyes at times its as if your listening to Keith Moon playing drums in ‘Madness’, a bizarre twist of fate fusing apposite musical styles’ in a marriage of inconvenience. The product of the marriage is something unique, at times familiar yet also startling. The Balladeers are that unusual musical anomaly, a band that will remind you of tonnes of other bands, yet sound only like themselves.



The Goldheart Assembly

It is always unfortunate when the touring band gets punted from top spot because they didn’t sell enough tickets but this was the card dealt The Goldheart Assembly on Tuesday due to the large Balladeer turnout.

’Has anyone downloaded this song from NME yet?’.. No response.

‘Is anyone here to see us?’

No response!!

I have to say i actually enjoyed the bands set. Although all the songs had a fairly similar quality and there was some obvious filler, the band were very good. Lush harmonies played over a late 60’s San Francisco sound meant there was nothing startling or new here, but it was all played out in a bravura fashion. Think ‘The Thrills’ if they were actually quite good and you are in the ballpark. Actually, i quite like ‘Big Sur’ now i think about it but no matter, The Goldheart Assembly were alright. Good musicians, a couple of great songs, they looked fantastic and i reckon if the stay together for a couple of years and grow some more facial hair to get that authentic late 60’s look then you never know.

There really was nothing new here though……. Unlike The Balladeers.

Sean - Glasgow Podcart


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

The Balladeers are a psychedelic 3-piece from Glasgow with an ear for timeless melody and a melting pot of sound and styles.

Come to their monthly music night and hear medieval riffs, 60's influences, nursery rhymes and carnival and fairground sounds. Blues and classical arrangements intertwine with gypsy stylings, and jazz and afro-based rhythms are all thrown into this insane mix, bound together with a distinctly minor key.

Modern-day musical troubadours, The Balladeers sing mournful melodies of love, loss and enlightenment which stand alone like a magnificent monolith inscribed with the names of anyone who has ever felt something of the wandering minstrel inside them.