Saint PHNX | Gig Review
Neil Mulholland and Kirstin Lynn make up One Nine, a local indie-pop pairing with a knack for blending cool electronic sounds with traditional guitar and drums. Kirstin mixed electronic claps, tings, snaps and clangs from her synth drums with a regular bass drum, snare and cymbal. She also provided vocal harmonies to Neil’s lead vocal as they flipped from a haunting dreamy sound such as the chilled vibe of their latest single “Bloodrush” to the upbeat pop of tunes like “Difficult Days”. Less can be more, and Neil used his guitar intermittently but to great effect, plucking electronic sounds from his effects and sometimes abandoning it to focus on singing and have fun with the crowd. His guitar work meshed very effectively with Kirstin’s imaginative and energetic stickwork to create a complex. One Nine are set to appear on the TRNSMT Festival River Stage on Friday 10th July.
Evan Barlow was a slightly incongruous second act I thought: a hip-hop artist and rapper from Virginia, USA, backed by a guitarist and drum machine. When BarlowLN (performing name) stepped onstage, tall and thin with a long black overcoat and huge army boots on, I thought he looked like he’d been drawn by Spike Milligan. However he quickly shed the coat as he got down to business and soon had the crowd onside and singing along. He has a messy history and uses that to great effect in his writing. “Feels Good” warned of the lure of the bottle and being in that place where you don’t care that you are making bad choices by looking for a short term high and “Let Him Come” is an inspiring song – realise your inner strength and face your demons. His lyrics reflect the descent into the lows of addiction and then rising out of it to be your best. Those songs felt confessional, and were delivered in an itchy, jumpy style which resonated with the realities of his journey. He also sang of his attempts to untangle lust from love, with some humour, and judging from the joyous reception he got in the front section of the crowd, he may have plenty more opportunities to research the topic.
The opening acts had warmed the crowd up nicely and we sang along to everything on the playlist while the roadies rigged the stage. It was no surprise then that the roof was lifted several inches when Saint PHNX (pronounced Phoenix) came onstage. A healthy contingent from their native Wishaw bolstered their wider fan base creating mayhem from start to finish. Stevie (vocals) and Al (drums) Jukes are the brothers behind the band, and the mysterious and imperious Johnny ‘Bones’ plays the guitar. This was a bit of a homecoming gig for them after a 12 show European tour and it felt like a party. They have some great tunes and love interacting with the crowd. During “Violence and Spiders” Stevie took over on the drums to let Al jump into the crowd for a singalong. Stevie dances far too well for a Wishaw boy and Al doesn’t bother with a drum stool so their energetic stage antics rubbed off on the crowd, who danced and sang their way through the set. The crowd sang the whole of “King”, with Stevie conducting, and when split the crowd into halves for “Mountains”, Stevie went out on the floor to lead the singing. Natural entertainers with a strong first album in “DDMN” (“Shake” has been used on the Ellen DeGeneres show, “Scream” would not be out of place kicking off an arena show and “Death of Me” was a real crowd pleaser) they look to be on a rapid climb to stardom, and loving every moment.
They are off to tour the US next month but will be back to headline the TRNSMT River Stage on the Sunday night. I predict a riot!