Onr./Taagan/The Lutras @ The Venue: Review
I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. Maybe it’s because, as part of my day job, I’ve been working on a project about what Dumfries used to be like so I’ve been hearing lots of old stories from people. Or maybe it’s because Christmas is just around the corner and everyone tends to get a little bit nostalgic around that time, don’t they?
Standing in The Venue on a Thursday night watching three local bands seemed to bring back loads of memories for me. Those walls have seen some fantastic musicians play in the 18 years it has been open – some of them have gone on to play headline shows at massive venues all over the world (Twin Atlantic, You Me At Six, Vintage Trouble plus loads more). We are really lucky in Dumfries as we have many great venues that host live music, but The Venue is probably the only place we have locally that is designed specifically for live music rather than it being an ‘added extra’ to help increase bar sales.
On Thursday 8th December 2016, it played host to local band Onr. with support provided by The Lutras and Taagan. It would be the last date on Onr’s Scottish tour and what better way to finish off a tour than by playing in their home town.
The Lutras opened the night and it was the first time I had seen them play live as a full band. I had been lucky enough to have them on my Radio DMC show to perform an acoustic set and they sounded fantastic so I was very excited about this gig. And, as many people are aware, I don’t tend to get excited very often.
The band have been given rave reviews from all over and I can only back those up in this review. I love The Lutras. If they recorded an album I would honestly listen to it all day. I talked about nostalgia earlier on – for me, The Lutras bring back memories of my days growing up listening to the likes of The Bluetones, The Seahorses, Oasis and Blur, and then The Kooks, Razorlight and Keane. They’re a band I know that even my parents would love because they have strong sounds of The Kinks and The Who mixed in there too. I can only hope they release a full recording sometime soon; if they do, then I reckon everyone should buy it.
Taagan were on after The Lutras and are made up of just two – they are Isla Gracie and Euan Macrory. I think it would be fair to say that it is pretty rare to see someone up on stage at The Venue playing a fiddle but that’s exactly what Taagan do. Fair play to them for getting up there in front of a crowd which would be fair to describe as ‘sizeable’ by this point. They performed some excellent covers of modern songs as well as their own material, putting their own unique stamp onto their choice of covers. Unfortunately, their sound seemed to be drowned out a little by the eager crowd and they may have been better suited to the opening spot, but it was a very determined performance nonetheless.
By the time Onr. took to the stage, the crowd had swelled and – oh my word – people were even on the dance floor instead of lurking in the shadows up the back! I was at the band’s debut gig at King Tuts back in the summer where they only had a short set and it all felt like it had ended a bit too soon. The crowd were keen to hear more, so it’s been really nice seeing them build on their set since King Tuts, and also since the last time they played in Dumfries. The Venue is made for bands like Onr. The lighting brings the sound to life and makes it all feel really real. As a band, they each have a massive stage presence.
Having now seen them play 3 times, I can say again that that they didn’t disappoint. I think I use that line all the time in my reviews and to be honest, even I am getting a little bored of me saying that. So what I will say – and what was particularly evident in last night’s performance – was that each member of Onr. really give it their all. I love watching how they all go into their little zones and put everything they have into their performance. They are all confident and experienced enough that they don’t need to look out into the audience in the hope of getting a reassuring smile. They continuously thank the crowd during their performances and genuinely appear to be surprised that so many people ventured out to watch them. They clearly put in the hard work before their gigs – and it always pays off. They’ve taken the time to pick the songs they are proudest of and make sure they are included in their set. I can’t wait to hear them once they have some material recorded and released because it’s guaranteed that they’re going to sound awesome.
A Thursday night is a school night and puts many people off going to gigs, let’s be honest here. Work the following day is always that little bit harder – I was tired and my ears were still ringing a bit from the night before. Was it all worth it?
Yes it was. It was SO worth it. Thanks for a beautiful night of music, guys.
(All of the photos featured in this review have been given to Small Town Sounds by the wonderful photographer that is Martin McKeown. He takes fantastic photos of local bands and we are so thankful to him for supplying us with them. He does this in his spare time to help support the local music scene, so a tip of the cap to you, Sir. What a guy.)