Live review: Beerjacket, The Second Hand Marching Band @ Oran Mor, Glasgow

Things to keep a mental note of during a gig review usually include: the setlist, crowd reaction, any incidences of witty banter. Yet here we are at Oran Mor struggling to complete a basic head count of the support band.

Is that someone’s arm poking out between the accordionist and the sax guy? Can we really be 100% sure there’s a drummer if he/she is never in view? Such are the unique challenges posed by THE SECOND HAND MARCHING BAND who, at a guesstimate, consisted of 16 members tonight. There’s a joke about going out on a limb somewhere in there.
Strangely, what you see isn’t what you’d expect to hear. Rather than being some sort of Polyphonic Spree-esque choir cacophony, The Second Hand Marching Band have been carefully constructed on the bricks and mortar of stirring songwriting and melodies. And the fact that several different members step forward to take turns on lead vocals means there’s not even an obvious frontperson.

The dreamy Scottish folk leanings of A Dance To Half Death and Enter The Room With A Loud Boom are prime examples of why you should be grateful this odd-looking bunch won’t make your teeth shatter onto the concrete.
The Second Hand Marching Band are followed by headliner BEERJACKET – that’s one man, one guitar. In this context his set is nothing short of heroic.

Having earlier made a ramshackle cameo appearance for a 17-strong version of his song The Blues, Peter Kelly looks a great deal more comfortable in his customary solo surroundings, visibly growing in confidence throughout his performance and engaging the audience in a way that his predecessors couldn’t.

As he plucks out the best moments of his five Beerjacket albums – including some Pop Cop favourites such as Belong In, Please Be Kind, Joy For The Sad and Dance Dance Dance – the seated spectators find themselves inescapably warming to his honest, vulnerable acoustic songs.

4 Beerjacket – The Blues
4 Beerjacket – Joy For The Sad
b March 7, The Captain’s Rest, Glasgow (tickets)
b May 18, King Tut’s, Glasgow (supporting Kristin Hersh) (tickets)

4 The Second Hand Marching Band – Bypass
4 The Second Hand Marching Band – Don’t
b February 12, The Bowery, Edinburgh
b March 12, The Flying Duck, Glasgow

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