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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
A Sunday afternoon trip to catch Cousti at the end of their Caithness weekend; there’s not been too many appearances from the whole band in recent months but the memory is strong of how good they were at Belladrum last summer, so it’s well worth a trip north through the sun and snow showers for a session in The Newmarket Bar, Thurso. With three hours to play with, we get treated to The Cousti Variety Show: short solo sets from Matt Morrow and Isaac Sutherland were followed by keyboardist Gavin letting rip with his true love – the New Orleans sound. Most of the band were up there for a mighty version of Iko Iko, followed by the Fats Domino classic, I’m Ready. Big smiles all round for that.
After that, it was the whole band getting stuck into a mix of their own songs (some old, some new, or at least unrecorded) and some classic covers. Well it’s fun to hear old favourites like Moondance but they do sound best singing their own songs, built for their own strengths. It’s been true for everyone from The Stones to REM, and it’s true for Cousti. Having said that, though, they played an absolutely stonking, reggaefied version of The Grateful Dead’s Fire on the Mountain. I could have listened to that twice over, very happily. Altogether, there was a greater meatiness to their sound than I’d heard before – perhaps still on full volume from the night before in Wick – and Peter Lamb on lead vocals was giving it everything, quiet Sunday afternoon gig or no. I love this guy’s voice and to hear him soaring above the band on the glorious Without You sets the hairs on the back of the neck going, every time. I’m really hoping they get a chance to get back in the studio and record some of these songs that are starting to get familiar to this Cousti addict – they’re still my favourite band right now.
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