Though the G2 is a relatively small venue, the intimate environment is absolutely ideal for Stanley Odd, the six-piece hip-hop powerhouse, whose headline show tonight marks the end of a successful tour and a remarkable year.
Appearing in support of their most recent album, A Thing Brand New, the band fuse a variety of musical styles together to create a unique and exhilaratingly original sound, the musician’s instrumental skills being complimented perfectly by the tremendous lyrical prowess of frontman MC Solareye.
Before they take to the stage, however, Glasgow rapper Loki delivers a well-received warm-up set, joined himself by singer Becci Wallace on guitar and vocals.
Loki is a long-established veteran of the Glasgow music scene, having won continuous accolades throughout his long and varied rapping career, but tonight the volume of the audience, combined with less-than-ideal sound mixing, interferes somewhat with the clarity of his performance.
For an artist like Loki, it’s important that his extremely well-crafted lyrics are audible, but though this proves something of a hindrance tonight, he himself remains unfazed by the noise levels and still manages to deliver a charismatic and intriguing performance, the song ‘Best Friends’ proving to be a particular highlight.
Solareye is the first on stage after Loki, rapping alone as one by one the other musicians appear behind him, the full band suddenly exploding into life on the first chorus of set-opener ‘Get Back in the Basement’.
Following on with ‘To Be This Good Takes Stages’, it quickly becomes clear that most of tonight’s set will be drawn from the band’s latest album, and with the audience clearly already very familiar with the new material, this seems like an excellent move.
Of those songs selected from A Thing Brand New, both lead single ‘Pastime’ and the haunting ‘Put Your Roots Down’ stand out in particular, the former for the swaggeringly confident vocal delivery and striking use of blues slide-guitar and the latter for its lyrical sensitivity and touching subject matter, the song concerning the moment Solareye found out he was going to be a father.
Another highpoint of the set comes with ‘Son I Voted Yes’, a stirring reflection on the recent Independence debate with a distinctly anthemic quality, made all the more impressive with the entire audience singing passionately along.
When the band do turn their attention to material from the previous albums, however, the audience greet old favourites with roars of approval and set-closer ‘Think of a Number’, originally recorded for 2010’s Oddio, brings the joyous atmosphere to fever-pitch.
In both tonight’s performance and their back-catalogue as a whole, Stanley Odd’s most appealing quality is their ability to face up to the often bleak reality of modern society, while still leaving their audience with a sense of hope, a sense that they themselves can somehow tackle the problems and injustices Solareye’s fiery lyrics are so good at summing up.
This, combined with a wry sense of humour, their refreshingly original instrumentation and Solareye’s brilliant stage presence, makes Stanley Odd one of the most exciting acts currently working in Scotland, not only in their chosen genre but in the country as a whole.
Words: Malcolm Higgins
Photos: Jayjay Robertson