Culann’s Friday night headline slot at a sold-out Broadcast was always going to be a bit special. Here’s a band that have really put the work in to get where they are at the moment and fresh from their stunning sets at the Tiree festival PJ, Calum, Ross, Greg and Sean were out to give their fans what the album already delivers – loud, emotive, hard rock with prog undertones. This was to be my first Culann gig and I was confident it wouldn’t disappoint.
First on the bill were Shelf:Life; a 4-piece alt-rock outfit who most certainly brought a few of their own fans along for the evening. It was a good set featuring the type of songs you’d expect from this kind of outfit; loud, distorted guitars and some catchy hooks to give their fans (and the rest of us) something to bob our heads to.
The main support band was Pariah Soul who were a great choice for the slot. They had an excellent blues-rock sound delivered brilliantly by just 3 members. Some excellent bass lines and drumming carried the guitar through their set really well and as a band they created a really interesting sound; slightly dis-jointed but in a brilliant bluesy way. I can’t possibly do this review without mentioning their frontman’s brilliant mic which was a retro style 50’s inspired piece that really stood out too.
The 2 support bands were strong choices which set up the headliners well. By the time the band were setting up there was an exciting buzz in the room. They had sold-out the venue and the fans they brought were most definitely ready for some Culann. Everywhere you looked there were groups huddled together with at least one of them in a Culann t-shirt. The band’s Twitter and Facebook was buzzing for days before the gig and it was great to see them looking as excited as the crowd were. Culann are a band who have worked hard for their followers through never backing down from their sound, staying focused on being unique and determinedly gigging all over Scotland. If it sounds familiar then you’ve probably been a Biffy Clyro fan from the start.
‘Dancing Bruce’ was a brilliant opener; showcasing the Culann sound and getting an early sing along to get the crowd even more hyped up than they already were and PJ was a frontman enjoying his art – grinning when the vocal breaks allowed him to do so. Looking round at the band they were having a great time and by the end of the first song the sweat was well and truly flowing, band and crowd alike. ‘The Lowlander’s Great Hatred’ was every bit the monster it is on the album and kept the set driving powerfully through into ‘Homegrown’. We barely had time to catch our breaths – 3 songs in it was hot, loud and two fifths of the band were minus their t-shirts. PJ introduced ‘Salvation’ to a unanimous roar from the crowd and the sing-along was fantastic. Most definitely a song I’d love to hear in a big venue with a big crowd giving it their all. But tonight wasn’t about that; I’m sure that time will come. Tonight was all about an intimate sweltering rock show by Irvine’s finest.
An Arnie-inspired sample brought us crashing in to ‘Beat Your Chest’. It was a great rendition of the 6-minute track and the crowd were once again in fine voice. ‘Brain Canyon’ followed which really shows off how different to most other band’s Culann actually are with the use of keys featuring heavily in that sound. ‘Jerusalem’, the soundtrack to the bands most recent video, was a special moment. Fresh in my mind from watching the video many, many times I stood with a grin taking my eyes off the band for probably the first time to look at the crowd: cans of Red Stripe waving in the air, arms round each other, sweat-matted hair pinned to their heads and a front row almost entirely of Culann t-shirts singing along; it was a great moment.
Closing the set with ‘Friendship and Honour’, we had been treated to an excellent set. I was admittedly a bit disappointed not to hear ‘I Am The Red’ but as a very last minute addition they played it as encore for the first time. It was absolutely brilliant. A great set by a great band who are surely destined for much, much bigger things. I can’t wait to tell people I was there.
Photographs courtesy of Andy Mills.