I rather foolishly planned a wee getaway to sunny Cornwall right bang in the middle of this years Perth Festival of the Arts. That was a bit silly of me because 2019 looks to have been one of the festivals best line-ups yet. Lewis Capaldi was obviously the star of the show and an amazing coup for the festival, but I was also gutted to miss up-and-coming Edinburgh indie rock band The Vistas, national treasure and BBC foreign correspondent John Simpson, and of course, Jools Holland's usual roof-raising performance.
On the plus side, I got to experience some glorious Cornish weather (and pasties), spend some time getting to know my girlfriend's family and took in some spectacular, Famous Five-Esque cliff top walks - marred only by the constant fear that my innate clumsiness would send me tumbling unto the rocks below, where my semi-conscious, mangled body would provide sustenance for crabs and seagulls. Great views though.
So I'm glad we made it back in time to catch Callum Beattie's gig on the festivals closing night. It's only the second time that I've been to a show at The Loft and the last time it was an all-seated affair. Tonight is a standing show and arriving early before people start to file in, I can't help thinking that the place would make a great regular venue for rock gigs.
Tonight Callum is supported by up-and-coming west-coast indie band Dogtooth. These guys are all in their teens but have already been playing live together for over four years. They are a really muscular sounding band that has that classic, no-nonsense, Clash style three-piece swagger down-pat.
Singer and guitarist John Hewitson shows us his vocal and lead chops on original material like 'Get In, Get Out' and ace new single 'Trying To Save You'. Underpinning the tunes and keeping things tighter than a hipster's jeans are drummer Robert Lang's hard-hitting beats, and bassist Craig Morrison. The band's setlist was loaded with as-yet unreleased new material and it all sounded great; definitely a band to keep an eye out for in the future.
I have to confess that when I first heard the recorded version of Callum Beattie's 'We Are Stars' I wasn't totally blown away by it. I could tell it was an extremely well-crafted pop song and he's obviously got an amazing voice but it just sounded a wee bit... well... Coldplayish. Tonight with his performance and songwriting I'm totally won over. I don't even care if some
of it does sound a bit like Chris Martin. Callum has helped cure me of that particular musical prejudice... at least for now.
It's a really stripped back, intimate show. Just Callum, his guitar, bass drum and Tom from Wigan (he used to be in Grange Hill!) on keys. All Callum's material tonight is great but things really get going with a lovely piano ballad entitled 'Some Heroes Don't Wear Capes'. It has a haunting piano line and Callum's voice reminds me a little of Kenny Anderson from King Creosote, especially in the upper registers.
It's touching stuff, even more so as his old man is in the audience, looking on proudly. The moment is undercut slightly when Callum asks us 'who wants to hear a song about a prostitute?'. However, what follows, 'Salamander Street', is actually a sensitive and thoughtful slice of life that has echoes of Travis's 'As You Are'. It's The audience has come far and wide to see Callum. One couple has come up from Somerset and another has driven all the way down from Aberdeen. brilliant.
The audience has come far and wide to see Callum. One couple is up from Somerset and another has driven all the way down from Aberdeen. Callum ran into the Aberdeen couple earlier in the afternoon at the Royal Bar and they asked him if he was going to be playing 'Cut The Rope'. It's the one song that Tom doesn't know but Callum hums it to him and he picks it up as he goes. This is followed by the slightly tongue in cheek 'Braveheart' which features the immortal line 'if you should be in danger, I'll be your power ranger'.
Everyone is having so much fun that Callum ends up playing well beyond his allotted time ending his set with a song he wrote for a girl he fancied. The song is called 'Ten Things I Love About You'. A couple of weeks later he saw her on the arm of a Barcelona FC player. 'Ah well, at least I got a good song out of it'.