2nd February | Hours Space

Photo: Duncan Cruickshank

Filled with bashful camaraderie, witty heckles and a ceremonial haircut, Jamie Cruickshank’s EP launch felt like my first year in student halls. Minus the unwanted visitors who insist on playing house music at an unhealthy decibel level. The night was filled with a star-studded line-up of support acts, along with the inevitable buzz around Jamie shaving his locks off at the end of the night.

“Jamie, you’re about to lose your hair; I want to get a picture of you first,” I overheard. The atmosphere was jovial and it felt as though I was visiting my extended family; if there’s one thing Breakfast Records manage to nail, it’s the friendliness of all their gigs – along with showcasing some of Bristol’s finest artists.

Opening the night with a sound of dainty folk and woozy keys, courtesy of a vintage Casio keyboard, was Ellie Gray. There was an ethereal air about her work, her lyricism sharp and metaphoric, painting a melancholic scene in her folk-fused sound.

Static Queen instantly hit with their Syd Arthur meets Jefferson Airplane sound. Lead singer Robin spoke of how he wishes that supermarkets had Star Wars-themed sandwiches before someone shouted out, “ham solo!” Keep your eyes on the meal deal sections in your local supermarket just in case this business plan comes to fruition.

The final support to grace the stage was lo-fi indie superstar, Emily Isherwood. She played some tunes from her rich back catalogue, such as ‘Dormant’ and ‘Arcade’ even teasing us with new a tune from her upcoming EP. We wait in earnest for hew new material.

The stage was decorated with instruments ready for Jamie’s arrival – electric double bass, lap steel guitar, banjo and an acoustic guitar. As Jamie noodled around on his banjo to make sure everything was in check, the crowd roared with applause as though he’d just dropped the biggest banger of the year. A warm welcome ensued, along with a public service announcement: “I thought about standing on an amp so that the people in the back can see me. I don’t have a banjo strap so I’m going to be sat down, sorry people at the back”.

He opened the night with a cover from American Enthusiasm, a rich and raspy rendition which felt as though we were in a folk club in the depths of Mississippi. Joining him on stage was long-time pal, Tom Crosley-Thorne with Jamie proclaiming that they’ve “been friends since Year four and been in about twenty different bands together.” Jamie had an air of George Harrison, circa 1971 about him, with an acoustic guitar and the facial hair to match.

‘I Can See Totterdown’ and ‘In The Autumn Evening Swoon’ were luscious examples of Jamie’s songwriting, drawing inspiration from nature and those around him. Tom provided additional mellow flair on the electric double bass. Ending the night with ‘Pool House’, a punk rock piss-take tune from Jamie’s endeavours with The Gnarwhals, they performed a skiffle version which had us all chanting the chorus. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a banjo look more punk. We all begged for an encore, with Jamie stating, “We can have another song when I’ve had a haircut.”

Everyone piled into the alley outside of HOURS space; it felt as though we were waiting for a fireworks display to begin. Jamie sat on a chair, drink in hand, whilst his wife Lily did the honours. After his ponytail had the chop, Jamie’s dad held it up high as though he’d just discovered a relic. Both hair and beard now fully gone, Jamie stood up triumphantly and announced “I feel really cold.”

Cold head aside, it was a heart-warming gig in celebration of a glorious new EP.

Listen to the EP Worn Through here: