The Bar Stool Preachers: Reviving the Ska Spirit at Bannerman’s Edinburgh with support from Billy Liar and The Guillotines

Billy Liar

First up was Billy Liar who I saw and photographed well over a decade or so when he first hit the scene with his band Bomb Berlin. He plays acoustic, and alternates between a full band and solo, but usually seems to be on tour alone. Billy’s repertoire is defined by whiplash fast strumming and pent-up aggression. His songs are deep, fast, and powerful to hear. A reserved guy off-stage, when Billy is performing he is an entirely different beast, one that can get the crowd riled up in ways that most acoustic musicians can’t.

The Guillotines

I saw The Guillotines earlier in the year doing a short 20 minute set at a charity gig in Legends, Edinburgh and was mightily impressed with their musicality, energy and songs so I was chuffed when I found out they were on tonight’s bill.

The Guillotines formed in late 2019 in Glasgow, originally as a 4-piece punk band. Taking influences from punk rock, ska and hardcore, we have so far released an EP and 2 albums. During the recording of our second album, we decided to expand our sound and add brass to accompany the dual guitars, bass and drums. Currently we’re putting the finishing touches on Antagonistic, or 3rd album. 

Go check them out on the various social media sites and more importantly buy their music & merch and if they are playing anywhere near you then do yourself a massive favour and buy a ticket for the gig as you will not be disappointed.

The Guillotines are:-

John – vocals/guitar

Stevie Oi – vocals/bass

Davie Snakes – vocals/trumpet/trombone

Micah – lead guitar/vocals

Andy – drums/vocals

The Bar Stool Preachers

The Bar Stool Preachers

Described as having the “perfect blend of intelligent punk anthems and poignant, unsentimental love songs, both combined with the most infectious songs you’ll hear this decade.

Having not heard The Bar Stool Preachers until a few days prior to the gig, I had few expectations; but what a band! Although most people did not appear to know them, everyone seemed to love what they heard.

Over the past few years the band have gained a huge following all over the world but they’ve never forgotten their roots. They’re a band that seem to really appreciate their fans – young and old, and their fans really seem to appreciate them. They are a lively bunch, and their ska punk gets the whole place bouncing from the get-go. Right from the start, they’re on the point combination of high energy onstage bustle and smooth-riding melodies is a hit. Frontman Tom McFaull is exemplary in his audience conduction, scooping them up in his hands with each introduction before taking them through every song with style. ‘When This World Ends’ features as a highlight moment with a crowd sing-a-long that vocalises powerful lyrics relevant to today’s societal issues. 

With McFaull acting as MC between songs, often giving life advice about looking out for one another and showing love and not hate. Sound advice that I’m sure many of my generation would have loved to have someone give to them 40 years ago.

The BSP, who were formed about nine years ago in Brighton, are all about community, social awareness, togetherness and challenging authority, and all those things were very much in evidence in this high-octane show.

Their ska-infused street punk is guaranteed to help you forget your woes, lift your spirits, and make you feel like you’re part of something that’s really worthwhile and tonight they were definitely preaching to the converted.

Combining elements of classic reggae with American style rhythm and blues, this band encompasses everything that ska should be.

As they launch into their modern take on the inclusive and barrier-breaking ska sound. Let’s not forget just what a huge cultural moment the genre originally was, with its international influences, blending of previous genres making it a shared love of various subcultures, and knocking down of racial barriers in a way little had previously. While updating the sound to something fresh and more contemporary, BSP keep every inch of the original spirit with a warm inclusiveness to their music. “Never look down on anyone/unless you’re giving them a hand up.” A very human, honest message which should be easy to adopt. Playing a good blend of older and newer material it was clear to see how their style has grown and developed from their more pure Ska beginnings to the diverse sound of the new record.

It was apparent how much being on stage meant to the band pouring every part of themselves into putting on the best show they could, every song is a relatable anthem; be it reassurance for the underdog or a beacon of hope for anyone going through a

rough patch. The Bar Stool Preachers are like a friend in the dark telling you not to give up and push through because it’ll all be okay in the end.

THE BAR STOOL PREACHERS continue their upward trajectory with a come one-come all, sweat-soaked sold out belter of a gig and I amongst everyone there tonight was glad I was there to see it.

The Bar Stool Preachers: Reviving the Ska Spirit at Bannerman’s Edinburgh @ RockNews

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