Live Reviews

  Richard Mailey and HappYear Fools live at Halt Bar in Glasgow

There is no shortage of acoustic nights in Glasgow these days. Bluesbunny stumbled - the pavement was loose, officer - into the Halt Bar on Woodlands Road and found one called the Standard Lamp Sessions. Before you ask, there is indeed a standard lamp in the corner of the stage. It is a compact venue bathed in a red glow from the stage lights but it does serve Guinness so we feel right at home.

Things are running a bit late it would seem so we do the decent thing and consume some more water of merriment whilst we wait. Richard Mailey saves us from alcholholism by taking to the stage. He plays a pretty aggressive guitar and takes out a string two verses into his first song. That problem sorted, his resonant growl of a voice echoes once more around the room. Too young to be worldly wise, he still manages to appear passionate and serious. He sounds a lot older than he looks. If you close your eyes, you can imagine a cross between Bono and Tom Waits and this is reinforced as he performs "And the Band Plays On". He finishes with a strangely appropriate cover of "Folsom Prison Blues". It occurs to us that he has the potential to be one of the great white soul voices. The promise is certainly there.

Whilst we wait for the next band, we look around the room. It has been a long time since we have seen so many self consciously trendy haircuts in the same place at the same time. Perhaps they are students. In fact, they must be students as many of them are sitting on the floor having failed to work out what the chairs are actually for. Or perhaps there is another reason for this odd behaviour. The stage fills - and we mean fills - with a large number of strange looking ladies and gentlemen. The HappYear Fools have arrived. Like a rambling troupe of circus performers, they have a strange hippie folk presence. First thoughts are of a Glasgow version of Edinburgh's Flowers for Algernon but this lot are way beyond quirky. Their sound is hard to describe. There are two (or maybe three) lead vocalists and they do not so much sing as do synchronised shouting. The band appears shambolic verging on chaotic like a jam session with strangers. They even take turns playing a little yellow glockenspiel. Somewhere underneath it all - presumably on the floor - was some rock solid percussion. Not quite sure what the songs were titled as the sound engineer was fighting a losing battle against intelligibility but we will go with "Touch Me" and "Magician" as being the most memorable. They also end on a cover - a nearly straight take on "Modern Love". Despite the chaotic performance - it was their first acoustic performance after all - there were well developed arrangements to their songs and enthusiasm was much in evidence and that bodes well for the future. Bluesbunny would definitely go to listen to them again if only to figure out what they are all about.

When confused, a Bluesbunny always seeks the comfort of spicy food. Time to hit the road and make with the conspicuous comfort of chicken pakora. Carnivorous rabbits are happy rabbits.

Review Date: July 12 2007