Stanley Odd and the Electric String Orchestra - The Old Fruitmarket
Live Review

Stanley Odd and the Electric String Orchestra – The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

Glasgow’s longstanding annual Celtic Connections festival always has a wide range of music on show. And occasionally they try things out, combinations that make you wonder whether they will work out or not. Like alternative Scottish hip hop band Stanley Odd playing with the Electric String Orchestra. Sounds, well … odd, doesn’t it? But it worked superbly well.

The Old Fruitmarket is a wonderfully atmospheric venue, a touch of old Glasgow made modern, but not too modern. The set up was strange last night, with tables and chairs set up in the back half of the large hall and a massive space in front of the stage. That filled rapidly during a fine set from support act Mystery Juice.

A four piece band from Edinburgh, Mystery Juice call their music breakbeat blues. There is certainly a bluesy feel, but there are elements of funk and rock in there too, and a distorted electric fiddle that gives them a unique sound. With a strong lead vocalist and a fine backing band, Mystery Juice played a very entertaining 40 minute set that had many dancing. They are an impressive live act.

Stanley Odd are always fine stage performers. Their stock is rising after the release of the fine second album Reject last year to very good reviews, and they entertained a large and increasingly boisterous crowd, with a high quality set,

Stanley Odd’s sound is much more than hip hop. Fronted by MC Solareye (aka Dave Hook), who gives his machine gun quick lyrical output in a sharp and engaging fashion, they also feature the soulful tones of Veronika Electronika (aka Paula McGoldrick) whose lovely voice gives a fine contrast. Add in intricate keyboards, together with bass, drums and guitar and you have a big sound that adds much to the main vocal delivery.

And last night there were also the violins, violas and double basses of the Electric String Orchestra to add yet another layer. Their fine playing gave an atmospheric and sophisticated feel to the slower passages and contrasted well with Stanley Odd’s usual sound. Solareye remarked that he had thought that only Metallica and Kanye West got to play with orchestras, describing the set up as “bananas”. But it worked well, and it seemed that the performers enjoyed it as much as the crowd did.

Opening with three tracks from the recent album, This Is Stanley Odd, Anti Heroic and Killergram, the pace was high from the start. With lyrics ranging from unique and insightful takes on UK and Scottish politics to a satire of the gangster rap scene, Solareye fired his words forth while leaping around the stage in typically energetic style. Join The Club followed, a story that weaves the names of over 50 clubs and pubs into its lyrics quite superbly. Carry Me Home was appropriately next, featuring a superb vocal opening from Veronika Electronika

Get Out Ma Headspace is a real crowd favourite, the call and response vocals involving enthusiastic audience participation. A strong melody from the Electric String Orchestra added much to a great track. The political Winter Of Discontent also went down very well.

There had to be an encore and the band returned to play Ten To One from their first album before the orchestra returned to a massive ovation for the final track Think Of A Number. There was real disappointment when all of the musicians finally left the stage and the house lights came up.

This was a typically entertaining performance from Stanley Odd, and much was added to the musical excitement by the Electric String Orchestra. Hip hop and classical style strings may not be an obvious musical combination, but I don’t think one person at this show was complaining. It worked perhaps better than anyone could have hoped, and that’s a testament to the musical skills of all involved. It was, quite simply, a great show.

Venue: The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow
Support Band: Mystery Juice

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