Sunday 15th December 2013
Johnny Main: Photos by Carlan Braid
Stereo in Glasgow is a deeply under-rated venue and as such, gets overlooked compared to The Cathouse or the ABC2 – which is a shame because Stereo is a great venue.
In recent months they've dropped the stage height to make it a bit more friendly and the whole place has the feeling of somewhere like The Cavern in Liverpool – a dank dusty cellar where it's the ideal place to discover some great music.
Toby Jepson, of course, has played a lot of larger venues during his time with the Little Angels, so for him to pitch up around the country with (effectively just) a guitar, takes some balls and there was a discussion about how many punters he could actually pull into the gig. As it happens, a good hundred people turned up on a cold, wet Sunday to witness a truly great performance from a seasoned professional.
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The audience gives Jepson a warm round of applause as he bounds onto the stage, with no introduction before bursting into a spirited rendition of 'Unwind' quickly followed by 'Motivated'. These two tracks get quite a good reception (bearing in mind they're more than ten years old and don't get a live airing very much – indeed, the latter has the crowd dancing along and Jepson successfully orchestrated the first sing-along of the evening.
Of course, this evening isn't just about the past – Toby is still an active recoding star as well as producer to Toseland and The Virginmarys and others, and with a new EP recently released, he showcases a couple of tracks.
For the title track, 'Raising My Own Hell', Jepson is joined onstage by Dave Kemp from The Big Bad Horns (who used to play with the Little Angels) on saxophone while Kemp switched to an accordion for 'Four Letter Word'. Although slightly unfamiliar with the new material, the audience still give the musicians a generous round of applause and it's safe to say that he probably sold a good few copies after the gig ended.
In something of a break away from the format, Toby elects to give the audience their chance to ask questions mid-set. With the help of trusty roadie Nigel Crux to orchestrate things, it shows that Jepson is a genuinely funny and approachable person, and is brutally honest when answering questions – especially when it comes to the inevitable questions about his time with Little Angels.
Little Angels are, of course, the reason that a lot of the crowd are hear tonight, and it just wouldn't be right for Toby to not play a few songs from his time with the band – and unsurprisingly it's these that that get the best reaction. 'Radical Your Lover' brings the gig up to speed and the crowd help by adding some backing vocals once again as those at the front of the stage dance the night away.
Conscious that time is getting on and the venue has a strict curfew, Toby's inter-song chat is kept to a minimum as he flies though 'The Way That I Live' and 'Young Gods' before 'Kickin' Up Dust' brings Dave Kemp back on stage one last time.
You know the crowd are aware that the gigs nearly over and they try to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of it while they can. Finishing up with 'Too Much Too Young', Jepson says that he hopes to see the audience again next year as he departs the stage to an audience who were well entertained and would quite happily stayed for another hour or two of top notch entertainment.
I also have to mention the supporting artist tonight – local girl, Christie Connor-Vernal who performed a solid set with her own composition, (the excellent) 'Pills' and a great cover of the Dolly Parton standard 'Jolene' among the tunes that kept the crowd entertained.
Big Bad World
Raising My Own Hell
Rear View Mirror
Four Letter Word
Don't Pray for Me
Ain't Gonna Cry
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
This Ain't the Way It's Supposed to Be
Radical Your Lover
The Way That I Live
Young Gods/Back Door Man
Kickin' Up Dust
Too Much Too Young