Sparrow and the Workshop Live - Woodend Barn, Banchory 27/06/12

One of the signs of a good gig, as a reviewer, is coming home to discover you’ve been so wrapped up in the music that you forgot to take notes. It seems to be a common theme with Woodend Barn’s Deliverance gigs, and Sparrow and the Workshop proved to be no exception.

Before the headliners hit the stage, though, local support act Min Diesel pulled an impressive performance out of the bag. Sounding tighter than ever, the Aberdeen three-piece stormed through Operation and into Love Disease, the latter taken from recent EP Minage A Twa. The pace didn’t let up for the rest of the set, the band only pausing to fix a dodgy hi-hat before belting out The Roaring Twenties.

Soon after, it was the turn of Jill O’Sullivan, Gregor Donaldson and Nick Packer – collectively known as Sparrow and the Workshop – to grace the stage. From the opening chords of Blame It On Me, and the ensuing impassioned wail that erupted from Jill, the audience were hooked on the trio’s melodic indie-folk. Playing a set spanning both of their albums – Crystals Fall and Spitting Daggers – the band also threw a few new songs into the mix, letting the crowd know what to expect from their forthcoming third effort. Unsurprisingly, the new songs didn’t disappoint and tracks like Odessa and Powers fitted in nicely alongside fan favourites A Horse’s Grin and You Don’t Trust Anyone.

The Banchory gig represented a welcome break from the writing and recording process which has enveloped the band over the past few months. This was their first gig in a while, they admit from the stage, and probably will be their last gig until they finish writing. As such, what we saw before us was a group of friends having fun. Rather than seeing them at the end of a gruelling tour, they were full of energy and excited to be on stage doing what they love doing with the people they love doing it with.

Speaking after the gig, Jill admitted that it was refreshing to play new material in front of a paying audience. “With older songs,” she said, “it can sometimes feel like you’re going through the motions. You could be changing chords and, in your head, making up a shopping list for IKEA. Not that I ever did that...!”

Perhaps with its folky country twang, a barn is the perfect space to appreciate Sparrow and the Workshop’s music. But whatever the location, one thing is guaranteed: Sparrow and the Workshop are at the top of their game.

Photos by David Lovie. Click here for the full gallery.


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