As If By Magic – A Colourful Experience On Your Doorstep
The Purple Orange is located at the head of Union Rd, Bathgate. A place described to me as “the wee lane up from the Steelyard, where the trophy shop was” when I admitted to not knowing it’s location. At the top of the lane, sandwiched between a flurescent Purple Orange painted sign, and a kebab shop sits an unremarkable door front. A glance in through the window will identify it as a guitar shop, but take a walk through the shop and out through the back door and you will, in the best Mr Benn tradition, find yourself in another world. High up on the ceiling above our heads resides a large painting of a purple orange on a background of blue sky and turbulent clouds. The walls are adorned with vinyl album covers, musical memorabilia and the odd poster that tells of recent events that have been taking place over the past few months in this hidden gem. These include Tom Hingley of Inspiral Carpets fame and Kyle of The View who have both played here recently.
There’s a bar to your left as you walk in where a single tap offers Krafty Brew IPA, a fridge holds some chilled ciders and a few wall mounted optics will dispense spirits if needed with the obligatory Jack Daniels also on offer. Opposite the bar is the sound desk which looks over some breakfast bar style seating before the room opens up into a dancefloor in front of the stage. For tonight’s show, there are also a couple of cafe style tables and chairs but it looks like on the busier nights these could be stacked away to make room for the moshers.
Tonight though the venue is comfortably holding the 30 plus crowd who have come out to see the Robin (Rab) Crosbie curated night which will be the first of the planned monthly outings for Les Frites Petites at The Purple Orange. A group of primarily local to West Lothian, amateur and semi professional singer/songwriters and musicians who have released 2 EPs to date.
Tonight’s selection on offer are in order of appearance: Adullboy, George Allingham, Peter Johnstone and Ryan Morcombe, each offering something a little bit different.
Adullboy starts the proceedings tonight. Fresh off the back of last year’s The Banyan EP, Robin has been back in the recording studio putting down some tracks for his latest EP and tonight we are getting to hear them for the first time. He takes to the stage with his trusty guitar and a new toy, a haunted Magnus Chord Organ he bought off of E-bay. Tonight he alternates between both instruments whilst treating us to a selection of songs which are soul baring insights into his life. Opener Ibuprofen is introduced as being “about the pain of crippling depression” which captures the tearing horrors of the silent illness. At the end, the silence in the room is broken by a heartfelt round of applause and Robin then offers to slow things a bit which is a deliberate attempt to bring humor to the party. This self deprecating wit is a theme that flows through his set tonight and his ability to see the funny side of such serious subject matter is reminiscent of Malcolm Middleton. Songs covering events such as getting drunk at a family party are treated with the same comedic honesty before then introducing a number he “wrote for my dad” who passed away recently. I’ll not ruin the effect of hearing this for the first time by recounting the Lyrics, because in truth, I couldn’t do them justice. Just have a tissue at the ready or a good excuse for having to rub your eyes. Dog allergies are always a good bet.
All too soon Adullboy’s set is finished and we await the next act.
George Allingham, takes to the mic and stool center stage. With his guitar and mouth organ he runs through a slightly hap hazzard, set of covers from Dylan to CCR via Neil Young. He asks for requests from the floor which are duly proffered. It’s during his set that I turn to my brother, standing beside me at the bar and say, “see my old flat. This is how I kinda though it would look and sound on a Saturday night, but none of us could play the guitar”. There is the beauty of The Purple Orange. It is definitely a music venue, but it feels like a home.
George is followed by Peter Johnstone performing on his guitar and singing self penned songs. I missed the start of his set as I left to go to the cashline and by the time I returned I only caught 2 1/2 songs. He sounded good though and I would get a chance to hear from him again as he joined Ryan Morcombe on stage mid set. I hadn’t heard Ryan play live before but was impressed by what I heard. Standing tall and wearing a black suit jacket over a white shirt. His black rimmed glasses finished a look that reminded me of a young Buddy Holly. His vocal style was all his own though as he rattled out some fastpaced songs from his own pen and I will be trying to catch him again. As I said Peter was asked to Join Ryan on stage and he willingly accepted the invite. Both showed a keen understanding of each other and as duo sounded good. Ryan finished his set, which included a couple of covers, alone on stage finishing with the James classic “Sit Down” which got everybody singing along full voiced before joining in an enthusiastic round of applause and cheering for more.
As I’m leaving I get talking to Gail who is busy working away on the computer in the guitar shop. Through the conversation I find out Declan Welsh is playing here in November. On Saturday 8th Oct I’ll be attending the Tenement Trail in Glasgow, an inner city festival where Declan will be one of the must see acts.
I hadn’t been to The Purple Orange before tonight, but I’m pretty sure that just like Mr Benn, I’ll be back for another visit into the back room.