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The Classic Grand, Glasgow
Saturday 25th April 2015

Johnny Main: Photos by Carlan Braid.

johnny main

the toi

Glasgow is renowned for it's great live music venues and this is always a bonus when you're looking for something to do – there's almost always a gig on somewhere, should you be at a loose end. The downside, of course, is that you often get clashes and a decision has to be made about which gig you end up going to.

Tonight was one of those nights with the choice of either a bill of chock full of Punk bands or whether to catch a couple of local rock bands in the form of Stoneface and The Toi. Having seen all the bands live before made it a difficult choice, but I decided to head to see the two local bands instead - certainly a wise decision in retrospect.

With the booze flowing freely in the Classic Grand (which can't be said for the Punk-fest at the other end of town!), a sizeable crowd had turned up just as Stoneface hit the stage, it looked like it was going to be a great night.

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As the rest of the band readied themselves, 'Food For The Crows' was kicked off with some orchestrated feedback from guitarist Grant Walsh as drummer Kevin Mackie counted in the song and their set is off to a solid start. It's Grant and his bass player brother Richard Walsh who take centre stage during the guitar solo before front man Stewart Storrie reclaims it as the song reaches its finale.

the toi

'Pressing Down' follows which was a much slower tempo number which has Storrie demonstrating his powerful yell at the top of the number before the focus quickly switches to Mackie at the back who, along with Richard Walsh, keeps the momentum going. Storrie seems to be enjoying himself as a group of fans close to the front of the stage start to nod along to the beat.

A quick plug for their self-titled debut album (available now!), recedes 'Lost Without You' which is another slower number and it gives chance for Storrie to showcase his powerful voice once again. Even though they have played this both live and in rehearsal, the Walsh brothers look lost in the music and their concentration is etched on both their faces.

the toi

'Holes In The Ocean' is the first of two brand new songs and features a great bass intro before the Mackie's drums and the main guitar riff join the party. This might have been an unknown track for the audience, but it seemed to be a popular track as they tapped their feet in time to the beat. Storrie gives a passionate performance here, and as the song comes to its abrupt end, it's met with generous applause from the audience.

The band also add in a second new song to their set, 'Strong' which has Mackie and Richard Walsh working together really well. As the engine room of the band, they give the tracks a solid base onto which the guitar and vocals are laid. Mackie plays an uncomplicated beat here, but you can feel the power in his playing as the floor vibrates every time he hits his kit before the climactic guitar solo reaches a new high for the band.

the toi

Storrie's between song banter with the front couple of rows is unfortunately lost, but those wedged against the barrier laugh along as his comments before the band launch into 'Superhero', which has the crowd nodding along once again. Judging by its reception at the end, this is a firm fan favourite and it doesn't look like it'll be disappearing from the bands set list anytime soon.

'Fortunate Son' closes the bands set and has an great bass guitar intro as Storrie encourages the audience to get their hands in the air one last time as the number picks up the tempo. It's an ideal way to end their set and a group of head bangers down the front seem to be making the most of every last minute. As the final notes fade and the band exits the stage to appreciative applause, it's clear that Stoneface have bolstered their fan base and judging by the queue at the merchandise stall, it looks like they sold a few extra CDs too.

the toi

Stoneface Setlist:
Food For The Crows
Pressing Down
Lost Without You
Holes In The Ocean
Step To The End/FTJ
Fortunate Son

Stoneface are:
Stewart Storrie – Vocals
Grant Walsh – Guitar
Rick Walsh – Bass Guitar
Kevin Mackie – Drums

the toi

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The last time I saw The Toi was back in April 2013 when they were supporting Swedish rockers H.E.A.T. on their debut performance in Glasgow. The band were a trio then but as they walked on stage, it was my first chance to see new guitarist Connor Williamson perform with the band and to see how much he could add to their performance and sound.

A big crescendo announces the start of their set with 'Get On It', and they "get right on it" with song one. Drummer Stevie McLay sets the bouncy tempo as the remaining three members voices blend during the infectious chorus before front man Paul Healy takes centre stage with his guitar solo.

the toi

'Come Alive' had the audience clapping along as the stop start guitar riff kept the pace going. Bass player Andy Carr was a never-ending bundle of energy as he jumped up and down on the spot before he got involved with some onstage tomfoolery guitarist Connor Williamson, and the loud applause at the songs conclusion showed the band had a lot of support.

The pace was slowed down by 'I'm Still Crying' which shows this band can be subtle as well as raucous as this intro to the song proves. It doesn't last long, though, as the mid-paced number settles down with McLay firmly the centre of attention with his solid performance before he passes the baton to Healy for his well received guitar solo. 'Water Into Wine', the title track of the bands album is a much slower number again showing this band isn't all bluff and bluster.

the toi

'Judas' is a brand new song from their upcoming record, and has the heads down in front of the stage bobbing away whilst Williamson keeps a gaggle of girls in front of him entertained. Without much time to rest, McLay counts into 'Till The Morning Comes' which brings the tempo back up as Healy tries to get the audience enthused. His vocals along with those of Carr blend really well as McLay keeps the beat going through the mid-section in between the meaty guitar chords. Williamson steps up to centre stage for his solo whilst McLay and Healy have some fun with some Status Quo style guitar swinging.

It's Carr who leads the band into a cover of the Alannah Myles classic ‘Back Velvet' with that famous intro leading the way, which slows the pace of the set right down. I'm a bit confused as to why the band actually included the cover in the first place, because it's obvious that their own material is very good, so I'm not really sure why they want to add in a cover like this because I'd rather hear another one of their original tracks. Don't get me wrong, it was an accomplished version of 'Black Velvet', but I'd rather hear an original song in its place.

the toi

'Down By The River' is dedicated to "anyone that's ever been in love", and is a fairly low key end of their set compared to some of their other songs but it's a still a great way to end with the strong chorus getting the Saturday night crowd singing along. Healy gives it all he has during the guitar solo and the reception at the songs finale is well deserved. Indeed the reception is so big that the band are offered an unplanned encore, in which they perform the unrehearsed ‘Cold In The Night'. Unrehearsed it may have been, but the band manage to pull the song out of the bag to cap a great performance.

The Toi have come a long way in the two years since I last saw them, and I'm interested to hear what gems the band have squirreled away in their upcoming album.

the toi

The Toi Setlist:
Get On It
Come Alive
I'm Still Crying
Water Into Wine
Till The Morning Comes
Black Velvet
Down By The River
Cold In The Night

The Toi are:
Paul Healy – Vocals/Guitar
Connor Williamson – Guitar
Andy Carr – Bass Guitar
Stevie McLay – Drums

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