The venerable Blue Lamp in Aberdeen is something of a hidden gem, its unassuming frontage concealing not just one of the city’s oldest bars but also an adjoining, intimate and atmospheric music venue. It’s been the locus for an impressive selection of Americana/roots acts who have ventured this far north over the past few years thanks in the main to the enterprising Almost Blue Promotions who seem to be able to lure class acts to the granite city.
Opening on what proved to be an excellent night was Livingston born singer/songwriter Adriana Spina whose last visit to Aberdeen saw her support Joan Armatrading at the much larger Music Hall. Her seven-song set contained a number of tracks from her 2017 album ‘Let Out The Dark’ such as ‘Disappear’, ‘Don’t Recognise Me” and ‘The Fall’. She ended with the tender ‘Jeannie’s Song’ which reflected her love for her grandmother who had suffered a stroke 12 years ago. Opening acts can often be underwhelming but Adriana’s really strong performance set the tone beautifully for what was to come.
Making their second trip to Scotland and their first to Aberdeen, Amanda Anne Platt and the Honeycutters delivered an immensely enjoyable set to a very appreciative audience. Given that the band are playing some 27 gigs in a five week tour of the UK and Ireland (before heading off on a first European tour that sees them perform in the Canary islands, Netherlands and Belgium), they showed no signs of flagging and they clearly appeared to be enjoying life on the road with some good banter going on between the band members as well as the audience. Despite having spent relatively little time in the country, it’s clear that Amanda has quickly assimilated some local knowledge and she amused the crowd early on with some highly descriptive stories regarding an infamous Scottish fortified wine as well some other tongue-in-cheek comments about some other less than salubrious parts of Scotland!
As entertaining as the joking with the audience was, the real magic happened when the band began to play. Featuring many of the songs from their latest album ‘Amanda Anne Platt and The Honeycutters’, they got off to a great start with the rendition of ‘Birthday Song’ setting the tone for the rest of the night before launching into the brilliant ‘Blue Besides’ from the 2016 album ‘On The Ropes’. Having recently taken the plunge and started using her own name to prefix what was previously simply The Honeycutters, Amanda is clearly in a place where she feels comfortable being officially in the foreground. She has an easy confidence on stage and a wonderfully expressive voice that handled the variety of emotions that permeate her songs with ease. This was demonstrated as the band got fully into their stride with ‘The Long Ride’, ‘Eden’ and ‘Texas, 81’ which had the crowd fully captivated as Amanda’s vocals blended beautifully in with, and soared over, the consistently excellent backing from Matt Smith on pedal steel and electric guitars, Rick Cooper on bass, Kevin Williams on keyboards and backing vocals. Amanda also elicited a spontaneous round of applause from the audience as she introduced Evan Martin not just as the band’s drummer but her husband of just one month! Unexpectedly, the band finished the first half of the set with a great version of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Do Right Woman’ and the fact that Amanda sailed through the vocals with ease simply shows what a great vocal range she has.
While the rest of the group took a short break, Amanda stayed on stage alone and played two new songs before being re-joined by the band as they launched into ’18 Wheels of Fire’ (prophetic given their beloved old touring van in the US burst into flames one night after a show) before a great version of ‘All You Ever‘ which built beautifully throughout and which was possibly the highlight of the night.
Amanda Anne Platt and the Honeycutters deserve even more recognition than they currently get. Great songwriting, an incredibly tight sound with very high-quality musicianship from the whole band and it all gets brought together with Amanda’s glorious voice. This was a great night at the Blue Lamp. If they have a show near you then go and see them, you won’t regret it.