I always find that when I try to describe the music of Stanley Odd, I usually end up using the phrase “It’s not as bad as it sounds”. When you explain that it’s politically charged, white rap from Edinburgh, people seem to immediately think that it just won’t work. Well, on the evidence of the show I saw on Saturday night, they are miles off the mark.
It’s been a steady rise for the Edinburgh 6-piece. Yup, Stanley is the band, not one guy. Second album, Reject, was nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year in 2013 and a heavy touring schedule has seen the band support big names in hip-hop such as Arrested Development and Scottish acts like The View. This year has seen the release of third album, A Thing Brand New.
On to the gig itself, and a healthy crowd had built up in anticipation and they seemed ready to party. Led by Solareye (Dave Hook) things kicked off with ‘Get Back in the Basement’ with the rest of the band coming on stage after the first verse. Far punchier and more dynamic than on record, Solareye was full of energy bouncing back and forth across the stage. Followed by ‘Chase Yirsel’, a tirade against the bedroom tax, it was a passionate start to the night.
Crowd participation was high, especially during favourites like ‘Get Out Ma Headspace’. Solareye even found time to pose for a selfie with an extremely persistent member of the crowd. A couple of slower tunes, like the introspective ‘Put Your Roots Down’ which Hook penned about the day he found out he was going to be a dad for the first time and the bluesy ‘Pastime’ really helped show the versatility of the band, with the latter showcasing the vocals of Veronika Electronika.
Many of the tunes were politically motivated, not least closing duo ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Knock Knock’. The latter is, well, if The Pixies ever decided to record a hip-hop song then I don’t think this would be far of it. If ever a track really showed how impressive the musicianship is within the band, then this is it. The band left the stage for a brief moment before being called back for a two song encore.
Firstly, ‘Son, I Voted Yes’, is a passionate spoken letter to his son explaining why Solareye voted “Yes” at this year’s independence referendum. For those that followed the debate, they’ll know that there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth on both sides. Solareye avoids that and lays down a reasoned and moving rap. They closed with the excellent ‘Think of a Number’.
The band were excellent and put on a fantastic show that was all about positive energy and the music, and it was refreshing to hear a uniquely Scottish take on hip-hop. I can’t see Stanley Odd do anything other than get bigger and better, and the next time I see them I can’t help but feel it’ll be in a bigger venue.
Live Photography copyright Stuart Westwood at www.amazingmusicpix.com
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