All terrible amateur photography and footage is my own.
By Michael Cameron.
April 8th 2017; along with half of Scotland I back the winning horse in the Grand National due mostly to the saltire on the Jockey’s jersey. One For Arthur – Nil Theresa May.
Quid’s in I jump on the train into Edinburgh to catch The Phantoms play a headline set in everyone’s favourite sweat box- Sneaky Pete’s. I run into some pals at Uphall station, a can of lager is thrust into my hand and I look forward to the night ahead.
As we approach the venue I’m greeted by the warm grin of Mikey Campbell who offers me a free ticket, unfortunately I was a mug and paid £7 online in advance for mine but at least it supports the band. When I hit the bar I discover to my horror that all lager on tap is off, the barman recommends Yellow Eye bottled lager from Portobello which turns out to be fantastic so all is forgiven. After calculating £8 for two rounds of bottled beer, the disappointment is wiped off my face by the dark bluesy tones of Fabric Bear, first band of the night.
For Fabric bear think blues/rock trio with Black Keys/Royal Blood undertones. All three members prove to be competent musicians and deliver a nice and chilled set with dirty vibes coming off the Guitar of singer Ryan Hunter. His voice cuts through the mix nicely and the guys deliver a perfect rocky opener to a good line up of bands. I ask Ryan after the gig about his middle parting but he assures me, “It just goes like that from the sweat of the gig,” and he’s not deliberately copying Jack White.
In the intermission I discover that the entire Phantoms line up is going through a game of musical chairs *sigh* with the old bassist playing guitar, a new bassist, new drummer and a one man band combination of keyboard, backing vocals and laptop pressing. I postulate with those around me why there are a couple of white tubes attached to each cymbal stand on the drumkit, drop another £8 for two Portobello lagers and talk shit to the merch guy about doing a t-shirt run for my band, who doesn’t understand a word I say and politely excuses himself to stand somewhere where I’m not pestering him.
Turning my attention back to the stage, four variations of guys with long hair who look like they smoke roll ups outside Nice ‘n’ Sleazy get on stage and proceed to completely blow me away. Paves have arrived all the way from London and by God they are good. The first thing that grabs my eye is the spectacular looking bass guitar and lovely finger style playing from its owner Perry Read.
The guys launch straight into a set of rocky/psychedelic tunes, backed up by some heavy hitting yet tasteful chops from the drummer Tom Triggs. The lead guitarist Mike Whitaker is dressed like ACDC with a Motorhead t-shirt and strikes a stunning balance between shredding and psychedelic noises, nice. The singer Luke Shield has got good presence, a nice voice and sports the biggest Topman hat in the room. I lose myself for the entirety of their set, drawn in by the consistent pounding of the rhythm section and captivated by the catchy melody lines. At one point Luke starts speaking/singing in French which is a cool touch. It later turns out his parents are French so he’s bi-lingual.
Next up are our headliners The Phantoms. This re-incarnation of the band is probably the best I’ve seen in the five years that I’ve known them. The only two surviving members are Peter Stewart, formerly bassist who now plays guitar, and the perennial lead singer/rhythm guitarist Colin Simpson who best described the band on the night himself when he said into the microphone: “We’re The Phantoms. We make lots of noise.” Honourable mentions go to Zach Goodhur for decent bass playing, the new drummer Allan Ramsay for a tight set and the multi-talented Mikey Campbell for pushing buttons up the back. Also, the two tubes attached to the drumkit are actually DIY stage lights and will only come on when The Phantoms start playing, bit selfish.
The rest of the after party in Banshee’s Labyrinth becomes a drunken blur so I’ll sum up the rest of the night in a list of pros and cons.
Pro: The guys from Paves show up and are a bunch of good guys.
Con: Later in the night the lead singer refuses to play my song on the Spotify AUX cable disco.
Con: The night ends in a Spotify AUX cable disco.
Pro: I manage to capture this video of a random guy who stumbled across the party and joined in.
(Notice Colin Simpson in the back drop supervising the Spotify AUX cable disco.)
I go home about five minutes after this with Tam from Volka in an Uber that some Edinburgh Uni fuds try to steal in the grass market. I watch them get in then call the driver from the app and he ejects them in front of us.
Final word: I had a great laugh with all the guys from the Livingston scene who showed up. A great bunch of people who always make time for a chat and a drink. West Lothian music might be a bit shit, but not for lack of trying. Thanks to The Phantoms for a good night.