It was a chilly Saturday night, the kind of night that smokers will forever lament for having started the filthy habit and for hunkering down in Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar for Jake Mackay’s solo EP Clouds Come Over launch night. The night was organised and promoted by local not-for-profit label Overhead Wires who have been gaining in popularity in recent months. I was welcomed in by George Ritchie of Overhead Wires who had the unenviable job of standing in the cold at the bottom of the stairs as people paid to get in, “Hopefully I can nip in later to see Jake.” he says when I return from a quickly toked frozen cigarette
Jake was supported by Alfie Bernardi, Rotait and Luke Hyttner, all bands and musicians who are based in the local Brighton area. First up was Alfie Bernardi of The Long Goodbye, of which Jake is also a member, with a solo set. His brand of relaxed acoustic songs opened the night and warmed up the slightly cool basement brilliantly.
I grabbed myself a beer from the bar in the break and supped it as Rotait, a duet of Rosanna Schwarzacher and Jareth Tait, took to the stage. They first formed in Ireland but strangely neither of them are actually from Ireland (I’m sure there’s an interesting story behind that.) Rosanna played the Cello expertly, switching between plucking with her fingers and the bow. Her use of long and short notes blended sweetly with Jareth’s guitar which, combined with his voice reminded me of Damien Rice (only better.) A particular highlight was their cover of Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer which had passion and pace. I’m personally not a big fan of Talking Heads but they covered the song in their own style rather than as a carbon copy which I enjoyed very much. Another highlight is probably more of a musician’s thing but bear with me; during one song Rosanna did some tapping on the Cello with the bow. It sounded fantastic since I’d never come across it being used in that way before. So yeah, get over it.
Next up was Luke Hyttner accompanied by piano, bass and drums. They were a solid and well rehearsed band who confidently played through their set. By this point the venue had begun to fill up and those that had been there from the beginning, including myself, had partaken in a few light beverages, adding to a louder and nosier reception for the band. Luke is a talented singer and guitarist and this shone through during his set of folk-ish light rock songs.
I filled my beer glass at the bar and settled myself in for Jake Mackay and his backing band of guitar, drums, pedal steel and bass. This was the first time I had heard Jake and I was mightily impressed. He towered over the rest of the band and showed off some very skilled guitar work on both acoustic and electric. The band, fed on shots from a girl in the audience, powered through the set taking their que’s from Jake as he led them through various tracks from his new EP. The only stumble was when he put his capo on the wrong fret leading to much confusion amongst the band as to why they suddenly sounded out of tune. We appear to have a technical fault folks and we’ll be back with you just as soon as we can. One of the songs that was not from the album was a cover of Led Belly’s Good Morning Blues, a classic American blues roots song. Alfie Bernardi almost stole the show on this one playing the harmonica with power and passion as any blues harmonica player worth his salt should.
Overall, it was a terrific start and introduction to Jake Mackay’s new EP Clouds Come Over. Here’s a track from the EP:
To get your own copy of the EP email Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Jake Mackay’ in the title. The EP will soon be available to order directly online.