Orkney Live Aid Review

It was a howling and a miserable Saturday night, the climb-down from last week’s epic Dr Who 50th anniversary, everything tending towards the mean. A biblical union, awards for the Pier and now this on the eve of St Andrews; a helicopter plummets into a Glasgow pub leaving eight people killed.

However, in spite of the adversity at home, people were still able to think of those in the Philippines whose lives had been devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. Orkney Live Aid saw the bringing together of established and emerging acts on the local scene in Matchmakers to raise money for this cause.

Sitting there at the table with my soda water and lime I couldn’t help but draw some parallels to the situation of those in Glasgow at half past ten the previous evening; a packed building, the band playing, everyone having a great time. Soda water and lime, friends hadn’t tried before, it’s a very sour concoction.

Just in time to see Jackalope (Native American mythical rabbit with deer antlers). A two piece band that had, at one stage, been three with myself on drums. It was a bluesy affair all in all comprising of composer and frontman Jonah Stead on guitar and vocals and Alasdair Gauld on piano/organ. Some tuning issues to begin with, but these were quickly resolved and an upbeat Jack White-esque stomper ensued. They played the Doors cover “People are Strange” which received nods of approval from Orkney’s old rockers. A fuzz infused slide guitar with tantalising organ tones original got heads bopping in one corner of the room. “St James Infirmary Blues” had a particularly epic piano intro, this duo is one to look out for and this will surely not be last time they perform at an event like this.

Next up were The Replay, a trio of veterans of the Orkney music scene. I felt the guitar wasn’t quite in tune during the first song, which was a shame. Their bluesy dad-rock wasn’t exactly to my taste but was well executed. They redeemed themselves though with what was quite an exciting cover of “Message in a Bottle” by The Police. Don, the guitarist, made full use of the chorus effect getting the ringing mournful sound just right. Again showing technical proficiency, the band covered U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with wonderful delay and a tight thumping rhythm section.

The Tribe then took to the stage. Clearly they were all experienced musicians and were, I felt, the most polished act of the night. They kicked off with Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” with its stop-start dynamics; this was a good showcase of their coordination. The lead guitarist could shred, the vocalist could sing, bass and drums were locked firmly together; a successful formula for a band.

Now, the moment I had been waiting for. Too long have I followed their career purely through the medium of Facebook. Now was the time, Hybrid Constellation had arrived. Truly, they were a band of unbridled energy. They started with Rage Against the Machine’s “Sleep Now in the Fire,” the vocalist Aidan Moodie displaying his enigmatic charisma egging the crowd on. Next was a brutal segment of gloriously heavy grooves, an evilly down-tuned guitar dropped incredibly distorted power chords. Ross Clark, with his stylish beard, has to be the most enthusiastic drummer I’ve ever seen, laying down an endless supply of beats; even standing up in the middle of songs to scream obscenities before slamming back down on the crash/china cymbals to herald the start of a new level of heavy. Unfortunately there seemed to be technical problems with the bass and so David rushed off stage to try and find a solution. Thankfully after a great performance of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt” the band were able to fill the gap with a spontaneous jam conducted by Clark and guitarist Taylor Pirie, this showcased the musician’s creativity as each groove seamlessly flowed into the next; an unexpected treat. The band finished with an angst-filled rendition of “Killing in the Name” followed by Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.”

The thing I find most captivating about this group is that what may be superficially intimidating, is actually a ridiculous front. Heavy metal as an act is cathartic for both the audience and the performers, it is an exaggeration of the anger and evil that resides in part in all of us and provides escape and release to all those who experience. Hybrid Constellation are genuine and very friendly people, all members took the time to speak to me after the performance . What they provide is a service that is satisfied nowhere else on Orkney, they recognise this and it can be seen in how they put everything into what they do. 

About alasdairflett

German & English Literature graduate. From Orkney. Interested in alternative and indie music, language, writing and politics.
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