I think it comes from being a over a hundred miles away from any place of a similar size and thus being in no other city’s shadow, but there is a great confidence to Inverness.
No more so is this true than in the city’s music scene.
Half-decent (or, indeed, full-decent) bands can crop up in the city or the wider area, last for years, and accrue large and loyal followings.
The flip side of this, however, is that the Highlands’ best bands are rarely on the radar of the music industry’s labels, venues and promoters in the central belt or beyond Scotland and thus rarely gain the coverage or success they arguably deserve.
That must be a frustrating experience for bands who genuinely believe in themselves yet who admirably choose not to relocate south.
That’s probably especially true for The Side, a long-running indie rock band from Alness, not desperately far north of Inverness, who after seven years and a handful of EPs decided to quit. Their farewell gig was at the Ironworks on Friday past, and I was not only there but (unintentionally) first in the queue at the door which got me jokingly labelled a “groupie” by the security staff. Not that I know the band – I’ve never met any of them but have seen them play a handful of gigs in smaller venues around Inverness and their bouncy, catchy songs are all the more enjoyable for the band’s energetic performances that are almost exhausting simply to watch.
Their album “Nowhere Left To Run” was my album of the year a couple of years ago when it came out (check out “One Fine Day” on their MySpace which is a particular favourite track). The release threatened to propel them into the big time, with the band played in various locations around Europe and got some big gigs supporting names such as Texas and Bon Jovi.
However, the band sadly made the recent announcement that they were to split – it was sad that the intended success did not emerge, with my network of spies in the Easter Ross music world speaking of that old chestnut “creative differences”. It’s a credit to the band that they’ve decided to go their own way before sliding into obscurity, instead leaving as they do pretty much at their peak.
Their gig was excellent, and a fine send-off to one of the best bands to have come from the Highlands in recent years. Their album is still available, and they have a number of songs on MySpace. For much better photos of the gig than my grainy, shaky efforts, I refer you to local music photographer Al Donnelly’s blog (1|2).