The OneTouch Theatre
THEY might be labelmates (on Olive Grove Records), but that is not the only reason why Randolph’s Leap and Woodenbox make for an enticing double bill.
For a start, there are the obvious similarities, like the rootsy pop sound that forms the core of each group’s sound, together with a love of brass and a bigger than your average guitar-bass-drums line up – although Randolph’s Leap fell slightly short of the eight-piece maximum this fluid vehicle for the songs of Adam Ross can reach.
But it is the differences between the two that make them such a complementary pairing.
Those differences are best summed up in the varied approaches of songwriters Ross from Nairn and Woodenbox frontman Ali Downer.
Ross has a nice line in whimsical wordplay that rewards careful attention to the lyrics, but with his spirited team behind him, this is far from any introspective singer-songwriter navel gazing fare.
For a band who can pen a song called I Can’t Dance To This Music Anymore, they can lay down some very danceable beats.
Downer is a gifted songwriter too, but more direct than Ross, and with a longer set to play, with Woodenbox did eventually manage to get some folk out of their seats and dancing down at the front of the stage.
Like Randolph Leap, Woodenbox was down one member. With bass player Fraser McKirdy having just become a new dad, Chuck Dearness made a temporary transfer from the horn section to give good service in the rhythm department, even if it did mean Woodenbox’s mariachi bass sound was slightly mooted until Dearness took up his usual position as the show built to a climax.
Up front, Downer was enjoying the "delicious" experience of playing a different location to usual Inverness haunt Hootananny with the advantages of space, a professional theatre sound system and an audience who were there first and foremost to listen.
But if the OneTouch was, as Downer called it, "a rocking venue", then that was down to Woodenbox and their infectiously lively set.
And a song like A9 North about heading to the Highlands and everything getting better "once you get out of Glasgow" did their standing with the local audience no harm at all.