It’s a rainy Thursday night, and you’re lucky enough to have a night off in the Southside of Glasgow. What to do with your night to yourself? You should probably go home and get on with the dreaded task of finding out what’s been leaving holes in the bread packaging. You’ve also been meaning to check up on that friend who’s been posting about how great their cat is a wee bit too much. (You know the sort: “Look at his furry paws!” “Fluffles snoozes aaaaall the time lol!” “Fluffles is my only comfort in this drudgery we call life.”) But then, on the sodden pavement, you see a discarded Southside Festival flyer and remember that you have a veritable banquet of cultural opportunity – a lot of it for free – right on your doorstep.
Ian and Laura Hill are Southside Festival regulars, this night apparently being their third consecutive annual appearance at Heraghty’s bar. The pub is instantly welcoming, relaxed and already busy with regulars anticipating the result of the Falkirk-Kilmarnock game. It’s difficult, at the beginning of their set, for the duo to draw attention away from the trials and tribulations of faltering Killie. Ian and Laura Hill rely solely on their music, excellently chosen cover songs, to entertain, thankfully sparing the room that forced banter so often feared in intimate gigs. An extra treat is their bandmate providing percussion on a cajon, perfectly sized both physically and in volume for the chosen venue. Etta James, Marvin Gaye, and The Beatles are several of many artists the performers cover, Laura easing over the vocals with a voice refreshingly untouched by modern pop influence. In certain numbers – particularly those by Aretha Franklin – the audience are willing her to really belt it out, but she holds a certain power by showing restraint where others pop veins.
By the end of the evening, Lee Clark’s disillusioned face speaks to a crowd of uninterested backs, as now all heads (flat-capped or otherwise) have turned away from the TV and are fully engrossed in the performance. After two encores, a gruff voice rings out: “You’re not leaving!”, the ultimate testimony of both the aggressive friendliness of Glaswegians and the success of the evening. You can catch their other act, Spinning Wheel, on Sat 28 May – if they’ve managed to escape by then.