Published: 17/09/2014 11:01 - Updated: 17/09/2014 17:20

REVIEW: Iain McLaughlin And The Outsiders EP launch

Iain McLaughlin And The Outsiders. Picture: JAERO
Iain McLaughlin And The Outsiders. Picture: JAERO


Iain McLaughlin And The Outsiders Falling Through The Dark EP launch

Ironworks, Inverness

* * * * *

By Margaret Chrystall

SOMETIMES like IAIN McLAUGHLIN AND THE OUTSIDERS you have to risk all to win – hire the biggest rock venue in town, create the whole EP yourself.

And no prisoners were being taken last Friday when after a full-on 10 song set – with the odd light-hearted new EP-flogging reminder – the last song ended with bassist Dave Ramsay flat on his back on the floor for a breather.

Listening to singer and main songwriter Iain McLaughlin is an intense experience. The lyrics are often dark and troubled, the onstage performance is commited, emotional and often takes him to a place where he roars at the moon like a werewolf in pain for the human inside.

The Light was one of those songs, one of the five from 2012 album We Are All Outsiders that made up the setlist along with the five new tracks from the EP launched that night.

And if there’s one thing that unites those five new songs, it’s that they are all so different from each other.

Human Condition – the EP’s final track and also last big finish song of the night – had already made an impact at the venue when unveiled as set closer at a band showcase night last year.

The recorded version is strong, but the live arrangement has already moved on to something less straightforward, opening with an almost flamenco-sounding fast-strummed guitar and crashing cymbals.

The Falling Through The Dark EP
The Falling Through The Dark EP

For another clue that the Outsiders and their leader never stay still and never stop developing the core of big, rock-solid tracks at their disposal, new song Easy sounds like contraband swagged as booty from an illicit poker game somewhere in the American South. Paul Elliott’s guitar, the grumbling bass and guest vocals from rubble-voiced Kris Douglas made this one of the night’s big moments.

Another big guitarline from Paul Elliott romped through second new song of the set and EP, Blind Faith, with Iain McLaughlin ramping up the angst from set and EP opener, the title track Falling Through The Dark.

It built from a slow ballad pace in a set that only once seemed to leave the crowd slightly restless in another slow sway of a song, album track Rise & Fall. But girls were dancing through that and many of the other songs and the crowd didn’t need to be asked twice by the singer if they felt like dancing in what is still the band’s most powerful number, Someone For Everyone.

The word on everyone's lips on the night was "epic" - almost good enough to describe both this band's performance and the five-star new EP.

Little touches that shone out from the music included Dave Ramsay’s relentless bassline on I Wanna Know, new keyboardist Aly Duncan’s lovely piano intro against drummer Russell Montgomery’s syncopated heartbeat on Breathe.

At the heart of the whole thing is a voice like an oozing river of oil and chocolate, banked by a band that instinctively understands dynamics and uses considerable musicianship and a sense of drama to make must-hear songs.

Even if, on the night, these lurgy-hit monsters of rock were fuelled by honey tea.

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