It can be a thankless task, schlepping around the country for any tiny gig you can get your hands on. After eight shows in nine days, at such luminous venues as The Tuppenny in Swindon and The Four Horsemen in Bournemouth, you could forgive Messrs McCorriston and Edwards if they begrudged a trip up the M6 for this, an 8 or 10 strong crowd in a ramshackle Leith cafe. Not a bit of it. They’re delighted to have people to play for, and the people they play for end up delighted to have them.
It’s a night of man-with-a-guitar sets. The Wee Review arrives just in time to catch the last moments of Cockenzie lad Johnny Brown. These songs are covers – some well chosen (Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon), some less so (Cher’s Believe) – but boy, the guy can sing. At just 18, he’s still got choices of how he puts that voice to use, and on the evidence of Leith-filmed video Give Back The Sun, it works as well with a full backing as it does with solo guitar.
First of our touring twosome to the mic is J.W. Edwards. He’s a chipper chap, who seems genuinely stoked to be playing, and doesn’t let the humble surroundings stop him with his “Hello, Edinburgh!” spiel. His vibe is Simon Neil as a 90s crusty, with Frank Turner earnestness thrown in the mix. He proves easy to warm to on a laid-back BYOB evening like this. Unusual tunings appear to be his thing. He twiddles away apologetically after each song, even whipping out a spider capo at one point. The fiddliness brings about some elegant finger-picked electric, but some songs are brutishly short. One wonders if he’s still figuring out which ones he wants to commit to.
Morecambe’s Joe McCorriston has actually supported Frank Turner so any musical similarities are more than incidental. Like his tour buddy Edwards, he’s another upbeat sort of fella, uncommonly happy to be here, even opening with two anthems to positivity. It’s strum-heavy pop-rock done right – pleasant, but not bland. Every now and again he’ll throw in a Beatlesy minor chord or a Lee Mavers-y quaver on the vocals. It’s music you could take home to your mum, that’d have a cheeky whisky with your dad.
This darker side to McCorriston is confirmed by a song about his own depression, Never Let The Demons Win, which has shades of Ralph McTell to it. Elsewhere in the set, there’s some… ahem… idiosyncratic sources of lyrical inspiration, such as the console game Destiny, and a man who threw up in front of him at a gig. He jokes he writes too many songs about himself, but there’a actually a pleasing humility about him. As egotistical singer-songwriters go, he’s very likeable.
He finishes up by confessing a love of musical theatre you wouldn’t necessarily detect from his songs. By way of demonstration, he leads the cafe in a rendition of You’re The One That I Want, a rousing ending to a mellow spring evening.