Ian is lead singer with Kent based band Gallows Circus, who I first came across at a live gig late last year in Ramsgate. Sold on their brand of blues-rock and Ian’s solid voice, I promptly bought their EP and it’s been a regular on the player ever since.
However, with the current restrictions in place limiting numbers getting together, gigs on Facebook Live are becoming the norm and this was Ian’s first, live from his bedroom with just an acoustic guitar. Now this was also my first Facebook Live gig, so after overcoming the first hurdle of how to get him up on my screen, I was set.
Following some ‘hellos’ to those leaving comments, Ian admitted to being out of his comfort zone, after all it’s one thing singing along to a guitar in your bedroom when you’re on your own, but quite another with an audience watching and one that you can’t see as well. Tonight was going to be about cover versions rather than Gallows Circus numbers and so backed by nothing more than a glass of red wine and his trusty vape he opened with ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ before changing genre effortlessly with ‘Jolene’.
Neither of the opening numbers were what I was expecting but I was seriously impressed with the way his voice suited the tracks and also with the sound quality, which didn’t waiver all through the performance. He did admit to wondering what his neighbours and housemate thought he might be up to, but something tells me they are probably used to hearing him. Next up was Carole King’s ‘You Got A Friend’ which Ian thought he might not remember all the words for, but did an admirable job and then John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ which a request had been made for, followed by Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Gypsy’.
Ian’s voice was strong and his ability to move between styles showed an impressive versatility, even if he did admit to being distracted by the comments scrolling up on the screen throughout his performance. He picked up the tempo with a great cover of Creedance Clearwater Revival’s ‘Fortunate Son’ and after saying what a fan of Janis Joplin he is, broke into ‘Me & Bobby McGee’.
Most performers feed off the audience when playing live, but the rules have changed in recent weeks with the performer having to gauge their audience through messages on a screen instead of applause. No mean task when you are performing in your own bedroom with absolutely no one else around to give any sort of context to those messages, so fair play to those performers sticking their necks out like this and playing stripped back to the bare bones.
‘House Of The Rising Sun’ was next up and we were then into the last 2 numbers of the evening. As Ian drew his set to a close we were treated to the best performance of the night as he took on Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’, a track that could have been written for him, before closing his 45 minute set with ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.
Within a few minutes of starting tonight, Ian had 109 watching and at its peak, he reached 144, which is an impressive audience by anyone’s standards. He seemed genuinely overwhelmed that so many had watched and promised to do more performances, which are sure to attract bigger numbers as word spreads.
For more information: www.gallowscircus.co.uk
Review by Howard Whitlaw