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I’ve been so organised with my review diary that I had most of my gigs booked pretty early on in the year.  Truth be told, when I sit down at Birnam Arts to watch the indie folk duo Jinski I don’t remember a huge amount about them.  I do know that at the time I booked tickets, I researched them on YouTube and obviously liked what I heard.  As the duo take the stage I remember why.  That day I had just had my fourth root canal treatment and the warm sound of their dual acoustic guitars and two-part harmonies was just what the dentist ordered to soothe my jangled nerves. 

Based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Jinski are made up of songwriter Stephen Wegrzynski and musician Dave Kennedy.  As they launch into their first song, the melodically inventive ‘Train’, the pair are looking and sounding the business.  Dave is looking particularly resplendent in a pink and white two-tone shirt and waistcoat.  You might not have noticed an abundance of sartorial observations in my review’s up until this point, but that might change as my girlfriend Jo has recently become a little bit obsessed with the fashion makeover show “Queer Eye” recently and I think that it is beginning to rub off on me!  

Also very impressive is Wegrzynski's harmonica playing, it's precision and clarity give it a bit of a Harry Nilsson vibe.  The duo's second song "Happy" showcases some great fingerpicking and bass-runs from Kennedy and features another fine melody.  Next up is the Newcastle drinking song "Byker Hill" whose lyrics date from 1812, but takes the tune from the even older Scottish tune "Elsie Marley".  It's a rousing performance by the lads and the songs celtic roots combine with Geordie lyrics to produce an awesome sound.  It's like Auf Wiedersehen Pet meets The Waterboys! 

The lads first set ends with two rock solid songs.  The first of which is the country-tinged and good-natured ode to everyone's favourite motorway "A69" ("actually it's an A-road", Dave reluctantly concedes).   This is followed by my favourite track so far, "My Ball Makes A Square", which features another catchy vocal melody and more great harmonies.

After a short break, the pair breaks out the big guns early in their second set with a cracking cover version of Neil Young’s biggest hit "Heart of Gold", with spot-on vocals and some harmonica playing from Stephen that compares very favourably with the original.  Another great song is "Eventually", a Jinksi original which tonight they mash-up with Elvis Presley's "That's Alright Mama" in a dynamic performance that has echoes of The Blues Brothers.  Dave gets more of a chance to show off his excellent lead guitar chops as the second half features a number of great guitar solo's.  As well as being top-notch musicians, the guys have a nice line in self-deprecating humour, including gags about Macbeth recountings of their road-trip

The lovely "Backyard" is one of the first songs that Jinski wrote together and it has a great lyric, particularly on the chorus.  "Live Long In The Day" is probably Jinski most popular song, it's expertly played guitar's and beguiling lullaby melody seem to strike a chord with everyone who hears it and it is a song that has been played live by other musicians.  It's such a relaxing tune, I find myself just closing my eyes for a second and letting the guitars and words wash over me.  

After the show, we have a wee chat with the guys and buy one of their great albums, "Hurry Home".  Dave gives me a little bit of background about the time they performed on The One Show and the other guests that were on that evening, which fittingly enough was fellow Geordies, Big Fat Hairy Bikers.  We headed home to Perth and Jinksi continued with their 10 date tour of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.  The guys will be taking in the Isle of Muck, Ullapool, the Isle of Ske and Inverness amongst others.  They are well worth checking out.


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