I was instantly pelted with pangs of emotion when I stepped into Òran Mór, the dreamiest converted church setting you could imagine. Arches in rainbows, fairy lights befitting of a festive wonderland, jaw-dropping frescoes and stained-glass windows… nothing short of a vision. I’d last been to a sit-down do of a similar ilk when Benjamin Francis Leftwich played York Minster. And the location here, for The Ninth Wave’s second consecutive sold-out Glasgow gig this October, was just as divine as their performance.
It wasn’t the night to time an arrival badly. I could’ve listened to the somewhat trippy, magically atmospheric house beats and ethereal electronics of Faodail for hours on end. That made it the most heavenly start to a show also bringing us the lungs of SAY Award nominee, kitti, and the Glaswegian wonders, The Ninth Wave. Faodail’s certainly for the Bonobo fans among us.
He was clearly humbled to have been invited as a supporting guest as well, which is in the same capacity as I first saw The Ninth Wave. It’s funny how they can go from opening for YONAKA in 2019 to undying playlist regulars that I can’t stop rinsing in 2021. So much so, failing to snag a ticket for one of their headline gigs wasn’t an option.
The second support slot came in the form of the phenomenally talented kitti, who you should, at the very least, recognise from the interview we did recently. The jazz artist is scooping more awards nominations and accolades as the days go by, and rightly so! She has serious Amy Winehouse vibes.
I caught kitti (in a lush peach blazer) briefly before her performance and she mentioned the difference between this setup and her norm, which usually involves her full band. But this melodic, stripped-back gig was kitti at her finest. She’s blessed with such a powerful, goosebump-inducing voice. Upon taking a seat at her piano, she commented on how it was a “very intimate, dramatic setting”, a top place to play us her first ever single, ‘Chasing the Crowd’.
She also stayed at the keys for a track she’s more recently written, a gospel-style number inspired by ‘Respect’, the film about Aretha Franklin. And ‘Pretty Girls’, a well-said piece about comparing oneself to the “beautiful birds” on social media, was another that worked tremendously just with the raw piano notes.
To mix the dynamic up a touch, the deliciously groovy ‘kandy kissin’’ was performed with a backing track. It’s an absolute hip-shaker and my favourite of hers. So, keep your eye on kitti — she’s a rare talent that’s bringing a jazz blend into the mainstream.
I don’t think ‘special’ even cuts it when I reflect on that night, quite frankly. The pairing of Faodail and kitti were the most fabulous appetisers ahead of the main event, The Ninth Wave, but what came next elevated things to a level I couldn’t have comprehended. The band were kilted and suited in a superbly Scottish style, with the promise of staggering synths that would conjure an ironic lump in the throat.
The Ninth Wave introduced a variety of additional instruments throughout. The running order also seemed to go from softer, more pared-back offerings to a raised-tempo affair in the second half, which brought about the fuller, more electronic gig style you’d typically be accustomed to.
‘I’m Only Going To Hurt You’ had a more subtle rendition without drums but with a backing violin, while the bursts of trumpet notes on ‘Human Behaviour’ somehow managed to lift the track’s game another notch.
A backing guitar and vocals assisted on the emotive ‘Abattoir’ as well, which joint vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Amelia Kidd, said was being played for just the second time, despite it coming out a year prior. It was the piano that often stole everyone’s focus — not least in the newer ‘Piece and Pound Coins’, which Amelia’s counterpart, Haydn Park-Patterson, led.
In an almost theatre-esque bid to keep us on our toes (albeit not literally), there was an interlude halfway through. A simple electronic, instrumental piece was left running to punctuate the mood and whet the appetite. It built us up for a sort of more unchained, participative second half.
We were gifted teasers of a few incredible new singles, including ‘Pivotal’ and ‘What Makes You a Man’ — during the latter, Amelia even slowly sauntered up the aisle, stopping to sing directly at one seemingly unassuming member of the audience. Everyone was properly warmed up at that stage. And it certainly generated a lot of excitement around the album that’s due out next year, and already hailed by the band as “the worst-kept secret of the Glasgow music scene”. Sitting there, captive, was enjoyably quite alien to anyone used to standing gigs as well, so it was a bit like being in the audience of pre-recorded a TV programme. A bit Jools Holland.
Naturally, there was an encore, and everyone stood for ‘New Kind of Ego’. It was bombastic and a total throwback to when I first discovered The Ninth Wave. What a way to round off proceedings. That wasn’t just a gig at Òran Mór; it was a fully curated hometown show experience that nobody will forget.