Alex Dry reviews Echofield’s Vic gig
Picture the scene. A Tuesday evening in St Andrews’ newly refurbished Vic. Sitting nursing my glass of the amber nectar, my poor girlfriend frantically whispers in my ear, “why did you bring me here, it’s dead!” No sooner were those soon-to-be-refuted-words out of her mouth than the makeshift stage area, on the other side of the room to the bar, separated by some pretentious wire-mesh netting, became the home for the evening of Echofield.
After having seen them play on numerous open mic nights around St Andrews I believe it is no stretch to suggest that they are our small town’s foremost acoustic group. Based out of Newcastle/Glasgow, as their Facebook page confusingly informs us, the group is fronted by singer Joshua Taylor and comprised of Ben Holloway for gigs north of the border and Charles Harrison for those south of it. Recently the band has won the ‘Derwent Battle of the Bands’ at York University and ‘St Andrews’ Got Talent’.
So it’s a little puzzling when at just after nine o’clock Josh and Ben open their set and there are not more people watching. The phrase ‘one man and his dog’ usually represents hyperbole. However in this instance it aptly describes the size of the audience – I’ll let you work out which of those two characters me and my girlfriend are playing. I get the impression the intimate feeling the set has is not intended, the band look as if they are positively itching to be playing to a larger crowd, and so they should be.
Even when it is just the two of us listening they play a confident mix of covers and their own work. Songs like Monday Morning and Status Update are hits of the future that you can’t help but tap your foot to and sing along. The words are not difficult to pick up even after one rendition. The most refreshing thing however is the unusual nature of the covers. There is no Brown Eyed Girl or Summer of 69 for your dad to get up and dance to, even though we finally get some inebriated frat boys complete with backwards baseball cap who demand they play Living on a Prayer for their buddy Brandon’s birthday. Instead we are regaled with the likes of Maroon 5’s She Will Be Loved and The Darkness’ I Believe in a Thing Called Love. These songs sound wonderfully different and in some cases better than the original due to the acoustic slant the duo give them. When they come off for their first break after an hour it is genuinely a sad thing that the music has stopped.
It is only now at eleven o’clock that the Vic starts to fill up. Echofield return, this time with a greater sense of purpose. In an hour and a half long set, that goes on longer than the bar’s closing time, Josh and Ben decidedly win the hearts of everyone in the upstairs cabin. By the end of the night the room is packed, with people getting up to dance in the centre or just frenetically squealing with excitement as they play their favourite song.
When ‘Mr Brightside’ makes a welcome appearance that lifts the whole mood into the stratosphere, and for a brief moment this isn’t just an open-mic night in St Andrews, it is an arena gig, with thousands of hungry fans screaming their lungs out. High praise indeed for two men armed with just one acoustic guitar, and some bits of paper with the words to the songs they can’t remember. I am not recommending you go and see Echofield next time; I am saying that you have to see them next time.
You can listen to Echofield on their Facebook page or on their YouTube channel
Image credit - Echofield.