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Two Picks from Art Gallery A/W 2018

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Alistair James: Teesside's Muso Modernist

I've known Alistair for years now and one thing that I've always admired about him is how he is constantly progressing as an artist. Since the Master Colony days Alistair has always had that something special and he's proved it over the years playing to a host of big crowds and supporting some very notable artists.

It's summer 2016 and Alistair is gearing up for another huge year of gigs and recording. He's back with a brand new backing band (The Insiders) including a female vocalist Elizabeth Marshall who adds that extra dash of Motown to the sound which has always worked well with Ali's tunes. The band are sounding very tight and their playing styles compliment one another. Ali is the complete frontman like he's always been playing his guitar with anger and passion whilst spitting his lyrics through the mic into the ears of the crowd. With an impressive back catalogue of songs combined with his latest tunes he's blowing the roof off every venue lucky enough to book him! He played an acoustic set for our first 'Move On Up' gig recently and was on fire. He added a fitting tribute to the much love Cov Trio The Enemy covering "We'll live and die in these towns" and "This Song" Get in!

This brings me to speak about Alistair's latest headline gig at the Middlesbrough Empire on Saturday 16th July. He's played here a number of times but this time was different... He came onto the stage about 12:00pm before the club night was due to start and took the audience by surprise! From the off you could tell they were not messing about and Ali meant serious business launching into the first song of his set his last single "Have You Ever Been Low?". The crowd stopped playing Pokemon Go and looked up from their smartphones gripped by the colossal noise created by Ali and co! "Have You Ever Been Low" is a Indie tune sliced with a beautifully crafted Motown chorus. It's reminiscent of those early Rifles tunes like "Romeo and Julie" and it's definitely as good as if not better! The harmonies coming from Alistair and Elizabeth are superb and add to the overall sound on a huge level! There's not enough female vocalists in proper bands and they add so much to a sound! Alistair is classically trained and knows music inside and out. This is what sets him apart from the majority of other singer/songwriters out there who are pretty clueless when it comes to writing meaningful Indie/Pop songs.

Back to the gig and Alistair was gaining momentum with every track. Another standout tune from the set was latest single, "Just Getting Older". Another tune with a catchy chorus written with fire and skill. The crowd really digged this one and it got people moving about all over. Ali definitely converted some of the clueless who frequent Empire every week. By this point in the set the audience was at capacity and there was a definite buzz about the place which carried on through to the the club night. Ali finished the set with a modern classic, "I Don't Need You" a song which oozes with swagger and finess that only Ali could have! The classic riff which hits you immediately echoed all around the main room and all eyes were on Alistair and the band! Once again he proved here how good he and The Insiders are. A frontman who is destined for success and brings a light of hope to guitar music once again!


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In loving memory of Denise Pottinger