Every year after T in the Park, King Tuts Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow celebrates the best in new and up-and-coming music with the two-week Summer Nights festival programme, showcasing bands to watch out for from Scotland and further afield. And on Thursday night I got to fully experience my first Summer Nights gig with a wonderful almost fully acoustic gig.
First up on the night was Jamie McGeechan of Little Fire, who won this year's Best Acoustic Award at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards. The music of Little Fire is that ever-popular fusion of Scottish and Americana which gets the night started off right. There's lots to be said about Jamie's talent, his energy and how he quickly gets an audience on side. One of the nights funniest moments comes from when he introduces the song 'Tell Me What You Want', plays a few chords then declares "I want it to be in tune.". With the crowd with him, and having started with a few upbeat tunes, Jamie shows a more tender side in the latter half of the set with songs like 'All I Need In Life' and newer track 'Caught In The Seams'. The short sets shows the full range of this one man and his guitar band who is sure to be going onto bigger and better things in the second half of this year, including the release of his debut album in the autumn.
Having to follow the strong opener was Ryan Joseph Burns, who has already had success as a member of The Seventeenth Century. Ryan opens the set with two solo songs before being joined by a band for the first time, making the joke that the songs will at least be less depressing with the band behind him. The set certainly does pick up with the addition of the band and Ryan's own fusion of Scottish and Americana sets itself apart, rooting itself more in the Americana than the Scottish but it is no less brilliant for that. A particular highlight is the single Absence, which is Ryan's take on heartbreak and certainly makes the crowd that bit fonder of him. The set ends on a high with 'Where I Want To Be', getting the crowd bopping and making many new fans amongst the continually filling room. In fact, the set as a whole goes down so well that Ryan returns to the stage to perform an encore. Not often that happens in the middle of the gig.
In the interests of honesty, Sam Fender being on the bill was half the reason I wanted to attend this gig. Having seen Sam on his first trip to Glasgow back in March, I was suitably awed by his talent and with a few more months on the road under his belt he is a stronger act for it. At a young age (only 19!), he's still a raw talent but there's so much promise and talent here at deserves success. After breaking a string just as he was about to begin his second song of the night, he gives a brilliant comedic performance and he definitely could have a second career as a stand-up. His comedic performance wins him many friends in the crowd, a few even suggest he performs acapella whilst he awaits a borrow of Michael Cassidy's guitar. Sam plays a fair few miserable songs, which go down well in Scotland, even on an atypical warm and sunny summers evening. Sam's talent is here for all to see, he's got it in spades and he is winning audiences over one a time throughout the country. This Glasgow performance is sure to only be the start for him, the crowd loves him and makes it well known. In fact Sam comments that it is the best crowd he's ever had so one up for Scotland, who make the Geordie feel right at home. Sam Fender is one the UK's best underground talents, just waiting to be discovered and take the world by storm. I certainly cannot wait to see and hear more from him.
With the crowd suitably warmed up, it was time for the headliner and tonight that was Paisley's Michael Cassidy, performing with his band. For me, this was the first time seeing him with his band and it's wonderful to see the songs take on a whole new life with a band behind them. However, it's also clear that Cassidy's strong vocal and lyrical talents are the star of the show and the reason we're all here. We are treated both new songs and hits, both of which are well received by the crowd and there's lots of bopping going on through songs like 'Fifteen Years' and 'No One Else Is Mine'. There are two new songs in the form of 'Gonna Paint It Red' and a nursery rhyme for his niece that he aptly turned into a great track, 'Run Run Rabbit Run'. I'm very glad Michael decided to take the simple rhyme and turn it into such a beautiful track. There's a good dose of Americana in 'Dancing At The Devil's Door', and 'We Can Breathe' ends the set on a typically strong note before Michael returns for a solo encore that is well deserved. The songs with his band have a much bigger sound but they are still heartfelt tunes that an audience can connect to and Michael himself is amiable, meaning he has all the tools to become one of our best musical exports. It's a shame that his set was marred by pockets of the audience talking loudly throughout, but that is the only little black spot on what is a brilliant night for Michael Cassidy and all the acts.
Summer Nights also features midnight guests in the bar of Tuts but your blogrunner is clearly getting too old for this, as I only manage one song of Thursday's guest Honeyblood. There was a good crowd for them and I'm sure they went down a treat.
For a warm Thursday evening in Glasgow, this gig made for an excellent way to spend it. All four acts gave the crowd great sets and wield simple acoustic guitars with great power.