Suilven Heights at Odessa – Review and Photos

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The cosy penthouse wine bar at the Odessa Club played host to a one-off performance of Suilven Heights on a balmy June evening. With a genre described as “popular melodramatic surrealism” and citing “any band or musician I have ever played with or listened to” as his influences, frontman Alan Marshall leaves us none-the-wiser about what to expect. Taking the lead on vocals and acoustic guitar, he is accompanied by friends from far and near, playing a medley of instruments. The plush surroundings are initially under-filled on this world cup match night, but they quickly fill with a bustling, merry audience of friends and music lovers.

The setlist of mostly original tracks from the self-titled Suilven Heights album get the audience toe-tapping, clapping and dancing as much as possible in the living-room sized venue. A cover of Horslips’ ‘Trouble’ goes down particularly well with those not already familiar with Marshall’s own compositions, and there is a genuine buzz in the air. Between tracks, Marshall takes time to introduce and thank his bandmates, some of whom stepped up at short notice to accommodate last-minute line-up changes, and to thank the capacity audience for their support; all in his shy Scottish accent. At the end of their eleven track performance, Marshall & co receive a standing ovation.

Speaking to Alan after the show, we asked him how it felt to be performing again:

“This was my first proper show since August 2011. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the music; which as a songwriter is the ultimate compliment. The atmosphere just seemed to build and build. I have to admit; I was very nervous, but in a good way. I need that nervous tension to perform at my best.”

We asked him if there was any artist, alive or dead, with whom he would like to collaborate, and how he envisaged the future with Suilven Heights:

“I would love to play with Shane McGowan! And I would love to take Suilven Heights around the world! I’ve been a professional performer since 2002, touring and playing over 600 shows with a very successful tribute act, but it’s in original music I see my future. I’ve always written original songs and have always looked to perform them, but the timing has never been right. I feel I’m at a good point in my life now and can focus fully on writing and performing my own music. My first album never really topped the charts but it sold enough units to allow me to record the next instalment of songs. Hopefully when the name is out there people will go back and buy up the back catalogue.”

Finally we asked Alan about plans for new recordings and upcoming gigs:

“I am currently in Hellfire Studio recording the next batch of ideas for the next album. I don’t put times on things but I would hope to at least have a new EP out by the end of the year and an Album early 2015. The next booked show for Suilven Heights is 31st July in the Liquor Rooms, and there are talks of a slot at this year’s Le Cheile festival in Oldcastle, which would be great”.

Review by Alan Daly
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko

 

Lucy Ivan

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