The venue’s website describes the event as a “singer/songwriter night’ suggesting that most of the music on offer will be of an acoustic nature. However, only Chiara Beradelli, whose soothing piano/vocals, backed occasionally by a cello, fitted with this initial publicity. Her short set also included a cover, a simmering reflective version of the Police’s ‘The Bed’s Too Big Without You.’ In contrast A New International (formerly known as The Starlets) took to the stage with a full line-up including violin and cornet. Their sound however was not compromised by an inevitable increase in volume and frequency range brought about through the inclusion of drums and bass guitar. In fact, it reflected how suitable the Vic Bar is as a music venue. Retaining cabaret-style seating, with tables interspersed throughout, the raised section at the end of the bar (opposite the entrance) made for an appropriate stage and resurrected memories of previous musical/cabaret nights hosted in the bar in decades gone by.
A New International retain many of The Starlets’ musical characteristics, including nods to the genres of cabaret, gypsy and movie soundtrack. An instrumental conjured up the spirit of Calexico and a new song ‘Valentino’ also nicely blended together this distinctive mix of influences. However, their strong songwriting ability is highlighted in an old Starlets’ number, ‘I’m Your Kinda Guy’ (which thankfully they’ve retained in their set) and a newer number, ‘Tenterhooks’. The latter encompassed a slow-build around a haunting refrain and closed their set.
Warren McIntyre and the Starry Skies completed the bill and they also took to the stage with their full (eight-piece) line-up, including Monica Queen on backing vocals and Johnny Smillie on acoustic guitar. The majority of their seven song set was built around their debut album Ask The Animals and included the stand-out songs Let Love Come Back to You and Now Comes Autumn (though they didn’t perform the album’s title track). The band finished with a newer song not from the album, Hi Girls, but its immediate hook-line sits well with the rest of the set and The Starry Skies are rewarded with a couple leaving their seats to dance next to the stage.
At £5 a ticket (which on the launch night included a free glass of wine) the event represents a welcome addition to the regular monthly live music nights which take place around Glasgow. The next night is scheduled for the 7 March with Sweetheart Review, Helen Reeves Trio, Paul Tasker in the line-up.