The Godfather of Indie Soul. Self proclaimed but still a title well deserved for Ayrshire’s Matt Hickman’s band brownbear. And where better to catch this bear other than in an actual Edinburgh Cave? Following a hugely successful sell out at Glasgow’s St Luke’s back in March, brownbear brought his full band to Edinburgh’s Caves to do it all over again to celebrate their second album Demons. Having made the Scottish Album Charts Official Top 10, Demons is the bands highest peak to date. The live edition did not disappoint.
Grace and The Flat Boys
After an unplanned detour around the city I finally found myself at Edinburgh’s The Caves. Normally straight to the bar, I couldn’t pull myself away from this evenings opening act Grace and The Flat Boys. The soulful blues inspired band were captivating. Grace delivers effortlessly. Her voice pitched perfectly for the bands jazz ambience. Already doing well in the local club scene, I would expect to see this band appearing on many line ups to come.
The room quicky fills up during the short interval anticipating the arrival of the main man himself, brownbear. Taking to the stage just be before 9pm, brownbears Matt Hickman wastes no time getting straight to it. A delightful combination of old and new releases, it’s fantastic to see how far this act have come from their Dead or Alive days almost an entire decade ago. Kicking off with some tracks from their first album What is Home gets the crowd moving but it’s the Demons era songs which get the strongest reception.
Fresh from a two week intimate acoustic tour across Scotland, this evenings full band show brings the tour to a climatic ending. The Caves is a stunning venue. Tucked away in Edinburgh’s Cowgate, the 18th Century vault has a natural reverberation that can’t quite be replicated artificially. The soul, intensity and the emotional depth heard recorded is replicated effortlessly on stage thanks to the natural echo of the bricked room. Whilst Matt Hickman is the soul of brownbear, it’s backing vocalist band member Sabrina Mandulu who really stole the show this evening. Her high energy and joyful spirit on stage is captivating to watch. The entire band feed off each other effortlessly but the chemistry between Sabrina and Matt on stage is a comfortingly joyous. It’s like watching two best friends just having fun doing what they love on stage it’s a refreshing sight. So huge credit where it’s due to the band who bring brownbear to life in the most beautiful way.
A great evening of live music from both brownbear and supports Grace and The Flat Boys. Two talented acts showcasing just the tip of the iceberg of the high standard of Scottish soul music right now.
Words by Anne Kelly