It’s 19:25 on a Saturday night. A large silver and black tour bus with extra trailer is parked outside the tucked away venue The Fiddlers, Bristol. An orderly queue begins to form on the unsuspecting cobbled streets. Mixed ages. Much chatter and anticipation. This is the first night of the UK leg of the tour for The Magpie Salute, following their headlining slot at ‘Planet Rockstock’ the night before.
The venue itself has a somewhat ominous feel. A converted prison, tucked away in the perhaps lesser-known area of ‘Southern Bristol’ and yet inside, its corner stage, bedecked with rugs and surrounded by a colourful curved lighting rig is soon feeling cosy as some 450 music fans filter in and fill the place from wall to wall. The bar is busy, the room is brimming and the support band are ready to begin.
This super hip 4 piece, take to the stage and it is apparent that if their music is as interesting as their bohemian attire, then the crowd are in for a treat. Vocalist – Alessandro Marinelli– quickly announces “We have 30 minutes to make you love us” and with that the band launch in to their set, beginning with a steady rock and roll performance of ‘Stop My Heart Dead’, from their Girl Quit Your Crying EP. The 2ndSong, ‘Move Your Feet’ from their album Dead Ends & Avenues sees Bassist – John Austin – and Guitarist – Andrew Donaldson assist with backing vocals as well as continuing their expressive instrument playing. The set continues to pick up momentum as the Vocalist grabs a guitar and the band all face each other during an impressive build up by Drummer – Gavin Donaldson – which has them playing faster and faster as he increases the pace of the beats. The set is a Psychedelic joy to watch as scarfs sparkle, bangles shake, pendants gleam and percussion is beat out with a tambourine on the Singer’s hat and chest. The band are genuinely having fun. The forceful title track from the Band’s ‘Dead Ends & Avenues’ album doesn’t disappoint with its solid rhythm and catchy riffs. The final song is a cover of Ike & Tina Turner’s ‘Too Much a Woman’ and further demonstrates the bands musical ability with introduction of a harmonica tune which swaggers along nicely. The set is short but incredibly sweet.
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THE MAGPIE SALUTE
It’s 10:10pm and there is a huge round of applause from an eager crowd as the venue is bathed in sound from the very start of this set. The 6 piece band begin with title track ‘High Water’ from their album High Water I which captivates the audience in waves of music. Immediately followed by ‘Walk on Water’ which introduces us to the deep vocal harmonies of Guitarist Marc Ford (ex The Black Crowes), and the stunning command of 12 string guitar playing by Guitarist Rich Robinson (ex The Black Crowes) gently bouncing the crowd along with its melodic chorus. By song 3, Vocalist John Hogg sets down his guitar and says a brief “How are you?” to the crowd, the band begins to play ‘Take it All’ and my what a tale he tells with his arms outstretched, his voice strong. The extended guitar solo by Robinson during the 4thsong ‘For the Wind’ is a sight to behold, he has his eyes closed and it is as though he is quite literally feeling every note that his fingers play. And that’s a lot of fast notes.
There is an undecipherable heckling from the crowd just before the 5th song which is coolly handled by Hogg who is clearly (but politely) not about to endure any of that nonsense. The next song ‘What Goes On’ sees Lead and Rhythm Guitarists interchange effortlessly. Then we’re back to a Gretsch guitar (one of many!) and Robinson singing lead vocals for ‘Oh Sweet Nuthin’ with Bassist Sven Pipien (ex The Black Crowes) lending extra vocals until the singing stops and is instead replaced by Ford’s skilful continuation on strings alone. ‘Smoke Signals’ demonstrates Fords vocal abilities as well as proving just what a finely tuned machine this band are. Each a professional and skilled Musician, able to interchange their role at any given moment and this just works perfectly. Mid set and it’s time for Drummer Joe Magistro to showcase his skills along with Pipien providing some extra funky jams for ‘Yesterday I Saw You’ and it is perhaps this song that elicits the biggest crowd cheer so far despite the appreciation being remarkable throughout. Now it’s time for some Acoustic action with just Ford, Hogg, Robinson, some shakers and an omnidirectional microphone, which makes for a beautiful lullaby-like performance of ‘Sister Moon’ and ‘You Don’t Have To Cry’ and has the crowd gently singing and swaying along. This format blends nicely into ‘Lay it all on me’ which then incorporates another quick guitar change for Robinson mid-song during the Keyboardist – Matt Slocum’s solo. Now the full band are back playing, powerfully and ALL enjoying picking the energy back up. ‘Open Up’ is introduced as “from the new album” with both Ford and Robinson singing, some tap bass from Pipien and slowed drumming from Magistro. This leads in to the band taking up their original positions for ‘Can You See’, ‘She Gave Good Sunflower’, ‘Good Morning Captain’ and ‘Horsehead’ before finishing with a spectacular performance of ‘Send Me An Omen.’
The audience stamp and chant for more as the band exit the stage. A few of the crowd leave, not expecting an encore after such a lengthy set. However, incredibly the band do return to treat their fans to one last song. An impressive feat. Catch them on their UK tour now or Find out more at: http://themagpiesalute.com/
Review : Suzi Turner
Photography : Emma Painter
Pacific Curd Photography