Colin Kennedy Band & JJ Gilmour

Posted on Friday 19th December 2014 13:00 by FreckFest

Friday 5th December saw Freckfest’s year draw to a close with a terrific show at a packed HAC. Both the Colin Kennedy Band and JJ Gilmour played outstanding sets, confirming to everyone in attendance that the best way to listen to music is in the live arena.

Back in March, Colin was the act that opened Freckfest proceedings for 2014, so it was fitting that it was him and his band who would round our year off. As a one-off, CKB stripped back their normal plugged-in, bluesy rock set. In place of the screaming Gibsons and high spec drum kit, the band played out their set on a series of acoustic instruments including acoustic bass and the African djembe drum. There was less volume and more opportunity to show off both the quality of their songs and their undeniable versatility. Songs such as ‘Bullets Of Love’ and ‘Paint The Grey Sky Blue’ are meant to be played live, and both got a right good airing.

Individually and as a group, CKB have played for years. All are outstanding musicians and understand the dynamics of the live show. They know when to go for it. They know when to hold back. They know how to extend a song yet keep the attention of the audience. At one point they sneak in a few bars of Queen’s ‘Now I’m Here’, sounding uncannily like The Who. The whole band directs a set that ebbs and flows like the tide at Irvine Harbour. Acoustic riffs ring loud and clear, backing vocals harmonise perfectly and at times I feel as though I’m watching one of those early 90s MTV Unplugged performances.

Colin said afterwards, “I have long been a fan of Jinky so to finally get to share the stage with him was a bit special.”

I suspect after Colin’s set that JJ may have felt he had to up his game….and that’s exactly what he did.

Unlike most bands who come on and hit you between the eyes with a one-two double-whammy of hits, JJ saunters on and tells a wee story. A wee story that becomes a long story. A long story that is very, very funny and frankly un-publishable. He has the crowd simultaneously in the palm of his hands and rolling in the aisles. Then he begins to sing. And that’s when he hits you between the eyes with the double-whammy of voice and words.

He has a brilliant voice, often ignored when others talk of him. “He’s dead funny!” “His stories are brilliant!” “He’s outrageous!” But he sings with a crystal clear clarity. And you can hear a pin drop while he does so.

JJ can also write a tearjerker as poignant as Smokey Robinson, a ballad as heartfelt as Tom Waits and a chorus as uplifting as Paul McCartney. There’s a truly transcendental moment during set closer Me And You when the crowd and Jinky sing as one. Was that a wee tear in Jinky’s eye? We’ll never know – as soon as the song is over he’s off telling funny stories once more. You don’t ever want him to stop. JJ appreciates every minute he has on stage and he sets out to entertain. As a writer and performer, he has it all. Easily one of our country’s most gifted songwriters, I’m flummoxed as to why he’s never mentioned in the same breath as other less talented, yet more successful individuals.

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