the joke’s on me;
Barrowlands 2 is one of the more curious venues in Glasgow. As the downstairs bar, and with the attached name, of its more famous big brother you’d be forgiven for thinking any local band would be proud to claim it on their touring CV. Instead it’s all pink lights and heavy old-time drinkers and smells suspiciously of pay-to-play, with four bands on the bill whose performances and fanbases don’t overlap in the slightest. It’s not the sort of place I’d usually choose to spend a Friday night, but as well as being a mate I haven’t had a chance to hear JJ Bull live yet so I’m willing to make an exception.
Sometimes I jokingly call JJ “rockstar”, and he’s acting the part tonight by showing up at the venue about five minutes after he was due on stage thanks to hassle getting down from Aberdeen. It doesn’t seem to faze him or his backup band, the Dinosaurs, any – they claim to have only had one rehearsal, but you can’t tell from the way they breathe life into the singer’s pretty compositions whether it’s the ghostly “Grandstand” or gorgeous “Chalk Scene”. And it’s not just me who thinks so – Bull has just nominated as Best Acoustic Act at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards alongside the equally brilliant RM Hubbert and omnipresent Rachel Sermanni.
They finish with “Capital City”, my favourite from debut album Ou Sont Les Elephants, given a boost by the presence of Tut’s-sellout singer-songwriter Jonathan Carr on keys: his smooth piano shouldn’t mesh so well with Bull’s more stripped-down songwriting but the combination is absolutely glorious and I’m humming along to the song’s soaring refrain the rest of the evening. If this lot aren’t playing a venue a little less weird in the near future, there’s no justice in the world.
And on the subject of Jonathan Carr… since I didn’t make it along to last month’s forementioned sellout EP launch at King Tut’s I think he’s due at least a little bit of a write-up. Although still unsigned, Carr boasts an impressive pedigree – he studied songwriting at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and counts John Mayer as a fan. The two recorded a track, “The Joke’s On Me”, together.
Steeped in pop and jazz influences, Carr’s music is perhaps a little more clean-cut than I would listen to normally but “Perfect to Me”, written and recorded with the fabulous Lou Hickey for the forthcoming EP, is a perfect slice of windows-down summery pop shimmer that’s enough to make you wish for the rain to stop.
VISIT: Jonathan Carr on Myspace
See, I’m alright because I’m off to Barcelona for my holidays RIGHT NOW, which is why I can get away with the cruelty of such postings.