The good ship Culann docked at the oldest pub in Irvine, The Ship Inn, on Friday night for a very unique, special show. Not only had it sold out in just under 6 hours (in typical Culann fashion), but it was the first gig ever held at a venue that opened back in 1595.
The show, just 420 years in the making was set up to be a spectacle from the start – a truly unique venue, a great headliner, and two brilliant support bands in the form of When I Was Young and the ever impressive Sonic Templars.
The fact this was the first gig at the venue took me completely by surprise, particularly with how incredible the sound was. I’ve been fortunate to see a hell of a lot of bands in my life but tonight was one of the loudest gigs I’ve ever been to; the sound was cavernous, vicious and, as I stood next to the PA stack, I was pretty sure the volume made my eyelashes move. It was brilliant and added an extra, immersive dimension to the show.
As always, Culann were on spectacular form. And why wouldn’t they be? Their own headline show in their own hometown that sold out in less than a quarter of a day. An adoring fan base waited for them and there was a hushed excitement as the band got themselves set up. I’ve seen them play The Barrowland twice, headline King Tuts, the HAC, Broadcast, Stereo, you name it I’ve seen them in lots of different venues but the air was different tonight, an extra layer, and as the first note of set opener ‘All Reverie’ screamed into life the crowd went absolutely insane.
Along with the soaring guitars, rumbling bass lines, frantic drumming, immaculate keys and vocals that never dropped in quality the full night, the one thing that stood out was how much fun everyone was having. With smiles all round, there was also extra cause for celebration as we were treated to not one, not two, but three new tracks.
You know when you’re at a gig and the band announce they’re going to play a few of their new tracks and 80% of the crowd split, go to the toilet, smoke and top up their beer? That absolutely didn’t happen; if anything people were as excited for the new stuff as they were about the existing material being showcased. Without exception the new tracks ‘Man Alive’, ‘Century Box’ and ‘Event Without Experience’ were instant classics. I spoke to Singer PJ a while ago and he shared that he always takes his time writing new songs, and it really shows. These clearly aren’t battered out in ten minutes after a few beers; these are carefully crafted, intricate pieces of art. They sound new, evolutionary but still very much Culann; get along to hear them live as soon as you can.
With the new tracks there were also mass singalongs of crowd favourites ‘Lowlanders Great Hatred’, ‘Brain Canyon’, ‘Beat Your Chest’, ‘Jerusalem’ and closed with ‘Salvation’; what a set list it was. It worked brilliantly and was adored from the first note to the last piece of weeping feedback with an energy that carried our sweaty, ringing-eared bodies excitedly down stairs and out to the welcoming cool air of Irvine Harbour.
The Ship Inn has seen over 400 years of history and I’m delighted to say I was there when Culann added to that history as the first headlining band to play the venue. I have no doubt further down the line this gig will be the ‘I was there’ story people will tell and the 90-odd capacity venue will magically have held thousands on that night. The good ship Culann, long may she sail on.