Martin Metcalfe @ the HAC

Posted on Monday 9th May 2016 21:52 by FreckFest


I don’t eat before a show,” explains Martin Metcalfe in the HAC dressing room. “So, can we go on early and finish early and maybe get to a decent fish and chip shop before they close?


We’re used to all manner of requests from the bands who’ve played for us; particular red wines, fancy olives, obscure peanut-based drinks, but never have we timetabled a gig to allow the headline act to get to Mamma’s or Enzo’s before closing time. Towering at well over 6 feet and dressed head to toe in funereal black, coupled with over-sized mirrored aviator shades and a black straw ten gallon hat, Martin can be quite an imposing figure, so we thought it best to honour his request. Friday night’s show was a first then, with both the support act and the headliner due to be done and dusted before the fryers had been turned off for the night.


The early support slot fell to Irvine’s Colin Hunter, a singer/songwriter with fingers in all manner of musical pies. As a member of Crash Club he’s used to playing slamming electro pop, but tonight he’s alone with his acoustic guitar and a handful of “depressing, sad” songs. His patter is hale and hearty and those in the venue are suitably impressed. An impromptu run through of a Ramones’ song – “I’ve just been told I’ve over-ran and have a minute left, so I’ll play a fast one and leave”, goes down particularly well.


By the time Martin and his 3 piece band are due to take the stage, a big crowd is in place. They’re keen to see and hear the former Goodbye Mr Mackenzie vocalist up close and personal. Martin was the focal point of the late 80’s act who grazed the charts on a number of occasions and had a successful recording career before co-vocalist Shirley Manson left for America and found mega success with Garbage. Friday’s front three or four rows were made up entirely of Mackenzies’ fans from back in the day who sang along to everything played and were rewarded when shouted requests were included ad hoc in the encore. The set was heavy on Martin’s old band’s material, as well as including one or two more recent songs from his Filthy Tongues project. The whole show was terrific.


Starting with a stripped-back Bold John Barleycorn, the band set their stall out from the off. This was going to be a ‘greatest hits’ set, played semi-acoustically. Candelestick Park, Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, Somewhere In China…. Songs I’d not heard in years followed one after the other, bringing old memories to the fore. A large bulk of the audience was made up of old Attic regulars (the disco above the Kings that truly was the only place to be between 1989 and 1993) and judging by the looks of acknowledgement as each song followed the last, they too were having the same happy flashbacks. By the time Martin and his band were rattling through biggest hit The Rattler (number 37 with a bullet), everyone was up out of their chairs, dancing in whatever confined space they had, punching the air during the chorus, singing every line back to Martin only a few feet away.


The band were bowled over by the reaction and played an impromptu encore, taking requests from the audience. Mindful of closing time in Irvine’s chip shops, I feared Martin was going home on an empty stomach, a fear realised when after the gig he mingled for a while with the audience, happy to sign autographs and pose for selfies. Martin left Irvine not with a decent fish supper but with the promise of a return visit at some point next year. Keep your eyes peeled for the announcement at and our social media feeds.

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