Forester – Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine – 21/5/11

Posted: 23/05/2011 in Local Music
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Photograph by Cassandra Clarkson

You arrive at the Harbour Arts Centre, pay your entry fee and furnish yourself with a drink. Having never been here before, curiosity gets the better of you and you pop your head through the door to the auditorium where the gig is to be held. You are perplexed.

All seated?

Your mind takes you through what you know about Forester. This is the band who teased audiences of local open mic nights with preliminary names for a musical project which  would not be heard for seven months. This is the band who spent those seven months holed up in a rehearsal studio, presumably intent on making sure their  live debut embodied all that the burgeoning Ayrshire scene has been waiting for. This is the band who leaked a demo of a single track a few weeks before their debut live appearance. This is the band who appeared to have it all planned out from the start and this is surely not a band who would have failed to understand the possible implications of such a layout.

You wonder if it’s going to be what you expected.

Fast forward an hour or so and you take your seat in time to watch tonight’s host, Allan MacGillivray, introduce the band. Guitarists/vocalists Lee and Adrian, bassist Chris and drummer Struan take the stage and launch into He Was Beside Himself. Another clever move by a band who haven’t left anything up to chance, given that this is the one song everyone here tonight has already been privy to. You smile at the familiar and relax into the performance…

…and the performance is good. This isn’t a mish-mash of musicians trying to make it work as a group. This is a band who are ready for the stage. There’s certainly a heavier edge, but not at the expense of atmosphere. Adrian, Lee and Chris seem perfectly at home in front of an audience and Struan keeps them tightly in check with the rhythm. Guitars, bass, drums and vocals are all on top form and to describe this music as “powerful” would be an understatement. There’s too much technical prowess here for it to be a punk rock lambasting but you get the distinct impression that this isn’t going to be a quiet journey and the band don’t disappoint. The well-known He Was Beside Himself is followed by Live Don’t Just Exist, Black and Light and Far From Near, before Nature and it’s Flaws brings proceedings to a close. With the rapturous applause, (some fairly explicit) shouts of encouragement and general air of satisfaction, it’s easy to see that the rehearsal time has been beneficial.

What’s not so easy is fitting the music into a genre. It’s a relief to note, however, that the band themselves appear to be struggling with the same difficulty, their Facebook describing them as “Alternative Dynamic Post Progressive Rock (we don’t really know).” Whatever it is though, it sounds spectacular and tonight’s crowd lap it up. As debut gigs go, this one is a definite triumph!

Arguably the most significant part of the evening came at the end of the second song, when Lee invited everyone “who enjoyed the first two songs” to abandon their seats, defying the restrictive layout of the venue, and join the band on the small ring of floor around the stage. This proved a pivotal point for both band and audience and the overwhelming majority of those present did what was requested of them. In the space of about thirty seconds, the frontman exuded the confidence he and his band should rightly possess, the crowd showed their unwavering support and the divide between performers and audience was not so much bridged as eliminated entirely. Result!

This could be written off as a stroke of inspiration in the heat of the performance but those with their hopes invested in tonight’s performance will be much more content to believe that it was another part of what looks, so far, to be an impeccable plan.

Take a second to consider the long wait between the first whisperings of Forester’s formation and their live debut, along with their decision to unveil themselves in a venue so contrary to what is known about their heavy sound. Now, consider how the band harnessed the faith of their crowd in order to overcome what looked, at the outset, to be a limitation. Finally, take a look back at the setlist. Only five songs. Just enough to press the audience firmly into the palm of their hand and then leave them gagging for more…

The next time they’ll see Forester? Five days time, in a venue with plenty of standing room…

The conclusion? This is not a band who have left anything up to chance and the resultant musical adventure is becoming more exciting at every turn. To those not present, it may seem like the request for everyone to leave their seats could have gone either way but for those in the room for the first two songs, there was never any doubt. Is this one of those moments where experience, talent, confidence and planning all come together in just the right amounts? It certainly looks like it!

Forester on Facebook

Sneak preview of next Forester Gig – Pivo Pivo, Glasgow – 26/5/11

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