With the King Tut’s Summer Nights festival in full swing, the venue hosts a night of young acoustic folk acts with the likes of QUICK, Northern Central and JR Green making appearances. King Tut’s has seen its fair share of raucous nights but this is a quieter, more minimalist occasion that celebrates the art of the singer-songwriter, with some seriously good talent on show.
With little previous knowledge of the band, QUICK are the surprise package of the evening in their earlier slot. Emily Barr on vocals is flanked by Alex Mackie on guitar and Willem McKie on mandolin, as they are able to hold the room to a standstill with their beautiful harmonies and tightly-picked instruments. Barr’s vocals shine on songs such as the melancholic ‘My Half Moon’, while their skill for musical storytelling is brought to the fore throughout their short set. The three-piece, who formed at university, have already managed to harness a wonderful musical chemistry between them, which seems all the more remarkable given the short time they’ve been together; it will be interesting to see how this progresses on their forthcoming EP.
Up next are three-piece Northern Central who have similarly formed a good onstage relationship following lots of gigging experience. The band, comprised of Aonghas Maxwell and Jack McLuckie on guitar and piano, and Chloe Robertson on vocals, settle into their set with a charming nerviness onstage. With more upbeat guitar rhythms, they also display nice harmonies, with Robertson able to show off an impressive vocal range. A surprising cover of Gorillaz’ ‘Feel Good Inc’ provides a highlight of their set, along with new song ‘Jealous’ with its catchy chorus and whistling outro.
Headline act JR Green appear at the late stage time of 11pm, by which point the crowd has dwindled slightly. However, those in attendance witness an excellent set which befits the positive reviews the band have been receiving since the release of their debut EP ‘Bring the Witch Doctor’ late last year. Starting with the upbeat ‘Do the Katie Step’, they bring a welcome change of pace to the evening with their quirky, modern take on traditional folk melodies.
The duo are made up of brothers Jacob and Rory, whose simple guitar and accordion set-up effectively allows them to offer something fresh and unique. The recent addition of a bass player and drummer in their live show allows them to beef up their acoustic sound and experiment more rhythmically, particularly on fast-paced, upbeat songs like the ‘The Hunger’ which create the kind of atmosphere reminiscent of a barn dance. The setlist showcases all of their brilliant debut EP, as mentioned earlier, along with some unreleased tracks, moving seamlessly from the high-energy, foot-stomping tunes with big refrains to quieter moments of reflection such as ‘The Gentleman’s Apocalypse’ which allow the audience to appreciate the tight harmonies between the two brothers. A poeticism lies at the heart of these songs too though, with the duo showing a maturity beyond their years with their lyrical observations, while Jacob’s gravelly, Casablancas-like vocal delivery gives them a modern, youthful edge. With further progression, it will be a bright future for these guys.
This JR Green article was written by Suzanne Oswald, a GIGsoup contributor.