KC Johnston Reviews The Mighty Sparrahawk

To be asked to write a review for this band is a privilege but to be asked by the band is a bigger one, also quite a challenge, having seen the band and worked with half them on stage crew, I find it difficult to explain to someone who hasn't seen them just how good a show they actually put on, just how brand new they all are and how on the button their music is! so please, hopefully after watching this new release, you will see what I and many others see, hear and feel, music to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, those eerie shivers you get when you hear the almost tribal drumbeats, that transcended mix of synth and guitar that makes you want to dance, move your feet and lose yourself in the moment! ladies and gentlemen ''THE MIGHTY SPARRAHAWK''

It's not very often I get invited to exclusive previews, in fact it's damn-near never! But this is one that got me smiling from ear hole to ear hole. It was a long three day wait after that short phone call, ''an invitation there for Saturday’s exclusive if ye want it?'' That was my weekend set. The Dark arts' festival on Friday held and hosted by none other than the New Hellfire Club then Sparrahawk on the Saturday, I couldn’t wait!

Not knowing what to really expect from a dark arts night I found myself very anxious but so curious as to what might be instore, my imagination ran wild. Not to be disappointed I quickly decided to let this be a surprise. It did not fail.

Being me, as usual I was late out the door and quickly made my way through Glasgow green ''suited n booted'.' Gaining quite a few strange looks as though I was on the run, a mad punter just escaped out of court, I made my way through the meeting and greeting of everyone. Apologising for my fashionable lateness, I had a moment to catch my breath. ''nah man acts don’t start for another 15 mins!'' a mix of self-rage and relief runs through my body only to be quickly soothed by that cold pint! Yes!

Although this article is not intended to review this event in particular, I truly believe this deserves a mention; the first act to play that night was a Portuguese man whose name now escapes my hazy recollection. I had heard of people playing the saw, I had even seen it in my younger days through some of the weird and wonderful folk musicians I met through my dad. But I have never witnessed such a beautiful sound from what would appear to be an everyday tool, this thing we were taught to cut wood with from a very early age, this rusty old jagged blade, I have before me a man playing Ave Maria with the same caress and love as a symphonic cellist. It took me what felt like an hour to pick my jaw up off the floor and roll my tongue back in, ladies and gentleman if you ever have a chance and you feel like being amazed beyond belief where your senses are almost flipped upside down, where your first instinct is to judge by sight yet the sound tells a completely different story, check him out! Go! Go for something so beautiful it should not be missed!

But back to the original subject, the reason I’m writing this article now, a band unlike any other on the scene right now, which is why this is so challenging. As I walk into Calton studios on that cold winter's Saturday night I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, having never been in the studios. Not anything even close to this, and then having to write about it, FUCK! Again, late as usual, I'm led into a small studio room tightly fitted with everyone waiting patiently for the film to start, I find myself a spot just in time for the film starting and I’m greeted with a nice cold can from an anxious looking Mr Rukowski. The lights dim down as the film starts with a beautiful intro played by Mr Scott Paul. One of the most truly beautifully written and delivered original pieces I had heard in 2016. The film itself is a great display of the bands' new tracks showing us just how tight they are and just how intriguing their music is. I was also introduced to one of my new favorite quotes. It comes from Stu Who whilst interviewing Khris, he says when being asked how he saw himself as a musician what genre would he place himself '' we are the folk musicians of the future.'' it made me realise how some of the best music is almost only relevant to its time and these guys are very relevant to the right here right now. where they might not be relevant down the line, the hope is they are respected as such.

After the viewing, we are let out of that tiny wee rehearsal room to grab some fresh air allowing preparation for our next treat, a mini set from the band! Standing outside watching everyone buzzing from what they’ve just watched was another reason to reassure why Sparrahawk are not to be missed. It also makes me think that if i tell too much it might ruin your experience of the film. I would rather tell you how I couldn’t look away, how my eyes were glued to that screen so much so that my can went warm in my hand. Realising this when the film finished, I took a sip slowly gulping it down and very nearly quickly bringing it straight back up. Alas, I was successful in keeping my tennants down mid-conversation and saving face.

The band start regaling us with some tracks from the video and maybe one my most favoured covers of Stevie Wonders’ Superstition. With all the vigour and soul of a Stevie Wonder track but with that Sparrahawk touch. With Khris jumping about like a young rockstar whilst composing the band as if they were his own symphony orchestra. Looking over, stopping, mid-song to argue with his brother over whether he was playing in the right key, to which the reply was ''fuck off, I’m playing it the same as I always have!'' only to continue straight back into song as if a beat were never missed.  Which illustrates one of the beautiful things about Sparrahawk is the relationship between the band proving that the best live bands are such, through their own unity and this is one major quality Sparrahawk have in abundance. This is not to take away from any recorded material but to emphasise that a band is always proven to be great by how good they are live. Quite clearly these guys had passed the test.

Not to end the night too quickly, I hosted a few of the band back at mine for a quiet jam and a few drinks, having the pleasurable experience of jamming with Mr Rukowski also getting to hear and see Scott Paul play in person, a man who I hope to see playing on the scene a lot more in the future. A few hours go by without notice, filled with loud music and loud laughter; all in all a loud amazing night which ended all too quickly, although well worth the wait, in a couple weeks I would see it all again in the Clutha for the big Hogmanay bash. This is a subject I am very hesitant to cover but under specific request I have to address it.

A great gig as always by the band, but it's a poorly promoted night only let down by itself. The people were great… but there just wasn’t enough of them, and no late license? It was almost like the early signs of future closure which would be a very sad day for Glasgow, such an establishment should have been full to the gunnels as my granny used to say, unfortunately this was not the case, and I fear for the future of this bar on its current path. On a night like Hogmanay it should not just be down to the band to bring in punters, in fact that goes for any night! Out of the hundreds of pubs in Glasgow, I and many others would expect such a place to be mobbed with punters keen to see their new year in, in one of the oldest most famous establishments in this great city.

I would like to finish this on a better note though, to summarise just how I feel about this band. They are just too hard to compare to anyone because you can see so many different influences, so many different styles amalgamated into one sound, so again to the reader any chance you get to see them take it. Any chance you get, get yourself onto YouTube and watch the videos, listen to the music, and feel what we all felt that night. I can say anything I want, but it can only be proven by your own experience, so go out and experience ''The Mighty Sparrahawk''. 

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