After 2 nights in the hustle and bustle at King Tuts, it was time for something a little more low-key, with the first Friday of the year involving us heading to The Hug & Pint to catch Glasgow singer-songwriter Natalie Clark, who was back on home turf for a brief spell after living over in Los Angeles doing some cool stuff.
We had only discovered her mere days before the show, and we instantly became fans, so there was no other option than to go into town and catch her live.
Starting off the night was someone we were more than acquainted with – Josephine Sillars – who was ready to get the musical ball rolling again after suffering over a hellacious university dissertation for so long. We had played host to her last February at the New Hellfire Club as part of our Local Music Live event, and we had been eager to see her again since.
As always, she was wonderful, with the vocals being sharp and crisp, and the key work very polished, whilst being complimented perfectly by Sam on the cajon.
Highlights included a stripped back yet still grand version of Hurricanes, the chilling Sun And The Moon and the addictive as ever Vincent, which was boosted by crowd participation, plus we loved the new single Problems With Power, where the melody was driven completely by rhythmic clapping and a basic drum beat, with no piano whatsoever.
A great start to 2017 for Jo in our minds, and we look forward to what she has in store for us over the next 12 months.
Up next was Mick Hargan. We were unaware he would be playing tonight, and we were not meant to be seeing him live for another 3 weeks, but regardless of that fact, he was superb.
Whether soft or loud, there was clearly so much passion in his singing, and we cannot recall seeing a person play an acoustic guitar with as much intensity as he did. We were entranced by it, quite honestly.
All the tunes were great, with the subject matters ranging from the love for his son, to a psychopath in Govan – quite the variety, as you can tell. At one moment, he had all in the venue so fixed in the palm of his hand and silenced in awe, you could hear a pin drop.
Capping off with a fiery cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark, it would have been nonsensical to not spend a fiver on a CD after what we witnessed, and we are already anxious to see him again at Broadcast later this month.
In front of what was now a tightly packed room, Natalie Clark took her place on stage. There was an undeniable buzz in the air as she got set to go, and what went down proved to be an unforgettable experience.
For starters, she was oozing with charisma and had a distinct allure, with a lot of that coming through her hair-raising harmonies and general inflections.
She delivered a mixture of familiar tracks, most notably an outstanding acoustic rendition of Skin On Me, phenomenal covers of Erma Franklin’s Take A Little Piece Of My Heart and Jessie J’s Bang Bang – the latter being the reason she was invited to audition for the American version of The Voice – and a pair of brand new numbers titled Crossfire and Grown Ass Woman, both reflecting on her current living situation in LA and featuring some fantastic lyrics.
Speaking of her writing, it occurred to us that there was a regular theme in the topics of her songs that related to positivity – being brave, having the strength to go on, having a bright outlook in dark times etc. – evident in the likes of Better, Bit By Bit and Weakness, and they really struck a chord with us on an emotional level.
It became evident to us that we listen to a lot of music with negative themes, so to have material come along and deliver the opposite of that is a real breath of fresh air.
Very rarely are we left struggling for words to describe a performance, and this was one of those cases. Natalie is the epitome of pure raw talent, and it truly pains us how someone as special as her is yet to crack it big. The sooner she gets her break, the better.
A very special night courtesy of three amazing Scottish artists that reminded us of how lucky we are to do what we do, and you cannot ask for anything better than that.