Adam Stafford / Rick Redbeard @ The Captain's Rest, 22 June
The small basement stage at The Captain’s Rest makes a perfect setting for solo performers; tonight we have three of them. Each has no problem in capturing the audience’s attention and filling the room with their presence, proving there’s not always strength in numbers. Yusuf Azak opens the show with a short set of original material and a few choice covers. Eastern Sun is a clear highlight, a perfect marriage of his honeyed voice and firmly-played Spanish guitar.
This evening is a joint-headlining show to promote the latest split single from the Edinburgh-based Gerry Loves Records. Rick Redbeard, familiar to many as the frontman of The Phantom Band, takes up one half of the vinyl release with the excellent Now We’re Dancing. Some artists appear lost when they step out as solo performers, but Redbeard (now with a few years under his belt in this guise) appears quietly confident. His songs are built on gentle structures, but contain some stinging lines: 'Drop the blade and come to bed / I won’t take back the things I’ve said.'
Redbeard’s other half, for the purposes of this evening at least, is former Y'all Is Fantasy Island mastermind Adam Stafford, who is confidently becoming one of Scotland’s most vital live performers. While his co-headliner plays an acoustic, Stafford (no stranger to these pages) prefers to use a Fender Jazzmaster. His method of slowly building songs, one layer at a time, by looping his voice and guitar, is not unique – but seldom is the technique executed to such thrilling effect. Those standing at the back could be forgiven for thinking they’re hearing the efforts of a four piece band. Latest effort, Vanishing Tanks, is a statement of intent; those present will be demanding to hear more soon. [Chris McCall]