Live at The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen

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Live at The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen
09 February 2017

Since I missed Amythyst Kiah’s much-lauded support slot with Chuck Hawthorne in Aberdeen in August 2016, she’s been on my radar. Spotify has even complained that I’ve worn out its copies of her albums, so when Almost Blue Promotions decided to bring Ms Kiah back to the Lampie, headlining in her own right, a full house was expected.

And so it transpired, with around fifty eager listeners shoe-horned into the intimate upstairs bar of Sandy Brown’s city centre groove palace, excited at the prospect of a repeat show from an artist of immense natural talent.

In delivering her own mature, carefully-structured songs, Amythyst displayed the confidence to exploit her impressive vocal range without inhibition, assuming an almost spiritual presence. The tenor of her delivery held the room, with a welcome absence of audience chatter which blights so many gigs, her well-judged rhythmic percussive guitar picking the ideal accompaniment for her set.

Interspersing the show with songs by Vera Hall, Rev Gary Davis, Son House, Dolly Parton, Riley Puckett and Radiohead, she proved that her own material has earned the right to be in such stellar company, whether musing on the apocalypse in ‘Myth’, offering a new slant on the so-called 27 Club by documenting her first over-indulgence in ‘Hangover Blues’ or expressing the anxiety at the possibility of wrecking a perfectly-happy relationship in ‘The Worst’.

Anxiety and doubt are feelings familiar to most songwriters, and Amythyst seems to be no exception when practising her craft. In introducing 'Ballad Of Lost' she recounted her personal artistic turmoil in always wanting to write the perfect song, fretting in deciding if a creation is ever complete, ready for public consumption. In this instance, her dad convinced her that it was worthy of performance, and beautiful it was.

In covering Vera Hall's 'Trouble So Hard' and 'Another Man Done Gone', the Rev Davis’s 'Death Don't Have No Mercy', Son House’s 'Grinnin' In Your Face' and giving Riley Puckett's 'I'm Getting Ready To Go' a country gospel treatment, Amythyst demonstrated her confidence by adding her own verses to several of these spiritual classics to add a more meaningful personal touch, and her edits are ideal fits, totally in tune with the originals.

There was a cover of 'Jolene' “because Dolly is a fellow Tennessean”, but the Kiah version mined the song’s true blues content in a brooding take, and she just about out-did Thom Yorke in the bleakness of 'Fake Plastic Trees', making the song entirely her own.

'Will The Circle Be Unbroken' closed out her ninety minutes under the Lampie lights. No encore was demanded, proof that the fifty-strong audience were unanimous in their view that Kiah's set was perfection itself. She will certainly be welcomed back.

Local singer songwriter RD Wyness, in support, served up a short set of his own thoughtful, melodic material, with a couple of well-chosen covers. He is confident of voice and unafraid to move beyond standard chords and progressions, with a deft guitarist's ability to add instrumental colour and dynamics to a well-received set.

Photos: Craig Chisholm Photography
Date added: Feb 21, 2017

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