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Live review. The New Madrids. The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen. 9 March 2014. Almost Blue Promotions

The New Madrids

The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen

Sunday March 9, 2014

With The New Madrids’ debut CD Through The Heart Of Town already causing critics and reviewers to sit up, take note and even tap a tastefully-tooled cowboy boot, it was with some anticipation that Aberdeen punters turned out for the Blue Lamp show. Although numbers could and should have been higher, those who did attend were treated to nearly two hours of stunning Americana, filtered through the consciousness of five wonderfully-talented men of Perth and Perthshire.

With dual vocalists Donny McElligott and Ian Hutchison alternating at the main vocal mic and a scorching virtuoso performance on Telecaster, lap steel and pedal steel by Owen Nicholson, this was as good a performance as the Lampie audience has witnessed for as long as I can remember.

Basing their set around the album, playing all ten tracks, the Madrids mixed up country, rock, soul and blues, tearing down, as the late Michael Marra said, “those foolish walls” in defiance of the genre cops and proving that where these forms meet and meld is a glorious sonic crossroads.

Throughout, Donny McElligott’s warm introductions, anecdotes and humour informed and had the effect of making the audience feel part of the show. These ranged from the imminent birth of his daughter on a night when he had a gig in Dundee, “Well, Ninewells is right there…” and his view that most of his relationships have been tempestuous, “Maybe I’m the common denominator”.

Whilst Through The Heart Of Town has no weak tracks, the highlights of those played on the night were Ian Hutchison’s ‘Shine A Light’, a country soul showstopper that would not be out of place on a Hi Records release, and ‘Shake’, neither of which missed the Bruce Michie brass on the recorded versions, such was the intensity of the five-piece performance. ‘You’ featured “the blistering tambourine skills of Ian Hutchison”. Owen Nicholson introduced ‘Mountain Of Trouble’ as “the first song we wrote together” which, to coin an understatement, is a fair achievement for a new act.

The tight Stonesy grit of ‘Alaska’ saw the Madrids exchanging knowing glances and grinning widely as they themselves knew they were setting their own standards and Lowell might have been in the room when the Little Feat influence was admitted and the steel guitar licks paid homage in ‘Need A Friend’. Graham Legge’s shout during the applause, “Lowell would be proud” summed up what everyone felt.

Supplementing the album songs were covers, including ‘Streets Of Baltimore’, a soaring ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ and a nod to Hutchison’s Revivals’ past in The Black Crowes’ ‘Jealous Again’.

They will be back, they promise. Don’t miss them next time.

Next show:

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