WHERE’S GEORGE? / KILLING TIME @ WHISTLEBINKIES – 13/02/2012

So it’s a new year and I’m now getting back into gear. I attended my first live gig of the year in early February, Where’s George?, at ‘Whistlebinkies’ in Edinburgh – this time my duties extended to using a video camera on tripod. Given that it’s a fairly basic bridge camera I have to say that I was quite pleased with the results and a selection of videos have now been posted on YouTube.

But I’ll now rewind to set the scene by describing a rather bizarre incident that I witnessed on my way to the venue:

As I approached the ATM on North Bridge a guy stumbled past me, almost bumping into me whilst wiping the corner of his mouth and spitting blood onto the pavement – another was shouting “let’s take it round there then”, somebody else in the group said “come on let’s get a look at this”, and a homeless guy under a blanket was shouting something unintelligible but which sounded inflammatory. I preceded to buy some batteries after withdrawing cash, and on returning saw a crowd round the corner in The Royal Mile watching as two people brawled on the pavement. Cue ‘blues and twos’ coming across North Bridge on the wrong side of the street – that was my ‘welcome’ to Edinburgh – almost like being an extra in ‘Trainspotting 2’!

I was a bit early so took a wander over to Princes Street then back through Waverly Station and, after a lovely ‘traditional’ lamb kofta kebab, found myself in the venue just as a solo guitarist/singer was finishing his set.

I still had a while to wait before Where’s George?, were due to start so took the opportunity to scan the venue’s programme for the month. Promoting themselves as a ‘Live Music Bar’, they have at least two, usually more, acts scheduled for every evening, except Mondays which are billed as ‘Open Mic’ nights. A few names recur during the month but in the main, named acts only appear once. There is an encouraging range of genres represented too; ska, rockabilly, blues, traditional, alternative, psychedelic, rap and powerpop are among those listed, so ‘something for everyone’ is very much the order of the day.

Before the Where’s George?, set I very much enjoyed Killing Time, a four piece funk/indie/rock band. The standard line-up of two guitars, bass and drums didn’t disappoint. They are, Lewis Pettit – guitar/vox, Christopher Buchanan – guitar, Neil Falconer – bass and Mike Johnston – drums; and they work extremely well together to produce tight driving rock, the funk as billed was evident but not overpowering But hey, what do I really care about genres?. They most definitely passed my ‘do I like it ‘test! I wasn’t very good at catching the names of all their tracks but one called ‘Testimony’ certainly reached out and grabbed me. They were obviously very comfortable playing this and the almost tribal drumming ensured that nobody was going to ignore it. The one other track name that I caught was a new one called ‘Langoustine’, a quirky little number that reinforced my view that this band are prepared to extend their range and don’t rely on repeating some tried and tested formula. Listening again later on MySpace confirmed that I hadn’t been conned. The tracks available in their stream confirmed one of my suspicions during the evening – the acoustics in the venue didn’t do the vocals any justice, and it was good to be able to hear them with greater clarity and enjoy the lovely Scottish accent.

For good honest slick guitar based rock, Killing Time is a band well worth looking out for. I hope to be able to get hold of some of their tracks to include in future shows so that listeners may also be able to appreciate what they can do.

Check them out on MySpace:

http://www.myspace.com/killingtimemusic

Then it was time and the stage began to be prepared for Where’s George? This was to be the fifth time that I had seen the girls play live and I had been assured that the set would include a number of new tracks. Once set-up and sound check had been completed guitarist/singer Penny confirmed that all was ready and they went straight into the first new song, a very upbeat and punchy ‘Stationary Scenario’.

The band like to keep things short and sweet and all too soon the song ended, to be followed by an old favourite. ‘Silence Of The Gun’ is a complex and intelligent song about bullying and the negativity of treating people badly because they choose to be different. With all the anti-bullying projects that I have been encountering recently, it seems to me that this track could well be adopted by one of them as something to help highlight their message. This sample from the lyrics should illustrate the tone:

“What did they tell you,
Oh, what did they say?
Someone new to laugh at, …yeah,
To see you through the day.
………….
……………
Why do they stare so,
Oh, why do they care?
What I choose to do now,
What I choose to wear.”

In addition to having great lyrics, it also gives Jade an opportunity to showcase her mastery of the bass guitar as she uses it as so much more than a rhythmic accompaniment.

Then there’s Amelia on drums, clearly relishing this role. From the opening bars of their first number, it was clear that her playing is becoming more powerful and commanding as she builds on experience. In fact, it is clear to me that all three are steadily building an impressive and mature stage presence as the months go by. I feel confident that they are definitely going places; think ‘X Factor’ then head off in the opposite direction and you might catch up with them.

As usual, their set offers a varied mix of original songs interspersed with a carefully considered selection of covers. I was very impressed with their new songs, as well as having the opportunity to see them doing ‘Bohemian Like You’, having been told that they had added it to their set.

In the absence of Martha, Amelia’s sister, who has previously guested on keyboard, the band were ably assisted on the night by Edward Keenan who joined them to end the set with an excellent cover of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. It’s great that they are now getting opportunities to play in the city where they will undoubtedly pick up more fans. Watch out for future appearances so that you too may be able to experience this band who are determined to do something original.

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