With a new album recently out, Ryan Hamilton makes his first headline tour of the UK over the next week or so. Unusually, despite forming a band for the album, he’s touring solo and in acoustic mode, though at least one of the band members can be expected to pop up on a date or three around the country.
Tonight was to be night one of the tour, hosted by The Hug and Pint – a vegan restaurant and very nice bar in Glasgow’s West End. It’s the first time I’ve been into this independent venue and it’s lovely. My wife’s veggie/vegan (dependant on budget!), the food here is very good, and they have a great range of beers for me to drink while I wish I could have a steak… The venue downstairs holds maybe 100 or so and the sound is superb, or at least it was tonight. It definitely suited the volume required for acoustic sets, and all three artists were as good as you could wish for in a live setting.
Opening were local sensations Altered Sky. Ryan’s tried to get local support for each show and we’re proud to say that Moshville Times helped arrange to have Ana and the rest of the band fill this slot. Surprisingly, given how much news I’ve personally posted about the band, this was the first time I’d ever caught them live! Thankfully, they were worth the wait.
Crammed onto the small stage in a single row, the fivesome played through a set running for roughly half an hour. They included old songs and new, and two covers (“Titanium” and Bring Me The Horizon’s “Drown”). My personal favourite was “Livewire” which worked incredibly well. Courtesy of the aforementioned great sound, all of the band were crystal clear from Ross’s (plugged) bass and Amy’s box-beating rhythms to the twin guitars and Ana’s incredibly adept vocals.
As I said to one of the staff after their set, I can’t imagine how they could actually be better than they were sat on that stage with two acoustic guitars. And yet I’m assured they are, when they’re all plugged in and bouncing. That I must see. As it happens, they’re out on tour at the end of March so perhaps I’ll finally get to see them “properly” then!
Touring support came from local lady Chrissy Barnacle who also features on Ryan (and the Traitors)’s new album, The Devil’s In The Detail. If I was to sum up her set in one word it would be “quirky”. Chrissy has an incredible voice and plays guitar with a ridiculous level of talent. Coupled with a sense of humour and a mindset that’s somewhat on the… odd side of the norm, makes for a very interesting live set.
I have to be honest and say that the music wasn’t quite to my taste, nor my wife’s, but we both loved Chrissy’s between-song dialogue which was wonderfully stream-of-consciousness. She’d reel off the most insanely convoluted bunny-boiler-esque comments without pause for thought, with a slightly unnerving glint in her eye that part of me really hopes is “for the show”.
Chrissy’s a very talented young woman and, though the music wasn’t for us, I really do urge you to get to any dates on this tour early enough to catch her. Trust me, when Ryan heckled her at the start of her set (“Don’t fuck it up!”) after giving her a big introduction, he needn’t have worried – she didn’t.
Ryan Hamilton being Ryan Hamilton, hadn’t been hiding backstage in the run-up to coming on stage, he’d been mixing with the crowd and enjoying the opening acts with everyone else. There were no dimmed lights when he walked on, just a polite cough and the sound of guitar strings being given one final tune.
The set was made up of songs mainly from The Devil’s In The Detail and previous, solo, release Hell of a Day with one or two other numbers chucked in. A great mix, overall, and all introduced by Ryan who really didn’t need to apologise for chatting between songs. This was “an evening with…” and we expected some wittering, funny stories, memories, opinions and general verbal diarrhoea.
There’s no doubting that Ryan wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s open about his past, his opinions, his hopes, his life… and we got a very revealing glimpse into them all between each of the songs. In fact, because of his little asides, I feel that we got to see more of him during them as well as their meaning and history was revealed a little before they were played (such as “Oh My God” which is more biographical than you may otherwise have known…).
Some of the songs were newly-acoustic, having never been performed as such before. One was personal favourite “Records and Needles”, and I can set Ryan’s mind at ease – it was brilliant performed acoustically.
I’d pick out highlights, but all the songs were great though I confess that we had to leave a song or two before the end. My wife hasn’t been well recently, and things were getting the better of her as it got late so we snuck out just as “Cheaters Never Change” began. Unfortunate, but such things happen.
I was hoping to get this review up earlier, before the Gateshead date, but sadly workload got the better of me. There are still a good few dates left on the tour and as far as I know only a couple are completely sold out though, tickets are very limited for the others. The whole show is a great night out and you’ll be supporting a genuinely independent musician – who also happens to be a damn fine performer!
Photos by Iain Purdie (c) Moshville Times