Southsiders of Glasgow rejoice – it’s the Southside Fringe! As part of this annual festival, Gerry Lyons, the long-serving host of the Acoustic Open Mic Night at Nice ‘N’ Sleazy, has made his way across the river to host and perform at the well-loved Glad Cafe. His performance, banter and bright white suit jacket could verge on cheesy, with almost every song seeming to start with a breathy: ‘I wrote this song when I was in *insert cool-sounding location here*…’ He’s just the right amount of corny though, and a supportive host to the performers tonight, who are of his own choosing, and “people who don’t often get the chance to play”.
First up is Malachy Tallack, who is a contrast to the host’s upbeat chat – a solemn man with a sincere performance. His voice has Scottish accented, stretched tones akin to Mumford and Sons’ Marcus Mumford, although he is thankfully less swathed in tweed. His material ranges from, in his own words, “mildly melancholy to thoroughly depressing”, although it does carry a hopeful strand of wonder and self-searching.
The great thing about the acoustic night is the ultimate lack of spectacle and the sudden awareness of normal human processes that we are usually shielded from in your average gig. Rebecca McDade follows next, after a struggle with her microphone stand and a whispered “howdy” that instantly endears. She has a special quality to her voice – soulful, and husky – and her material is emotive and honest. Watching her perform is the highlight of the evening.
Diyatom Deb, next on, hurriedly assures us that he will be playing mostly covers – however, he seems to find courage from the support of the crowd and later plays us some of his own. His powerful voice lends itself to the music of his covers such as The Eagles, but his own material and manner on stage indicates an intelligence and flair for songwriting which should be encouraged by the crowds he will no doubt meet at similar nights to follow.
Lyons ends the night with a friendly altercation with a crisp-rustler in the first row. His self-deprecating humour and passion for music this evening perfectly encapsulates the warmth, community and importance of acoustic open mic nights as a platform for musicians who don’t often get the opportunity to perform.
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