Friday (January 27) saw Aberdeen folk/rock/country outfit, The Deportees, play Krakatoa, a music venue down beside Aberdeen Harbour. They were assisted by fellow Aberdonian, indie/pop/folk man, Steven Milne, and Peterhead alternative act, The Harmonica Movement.
First impressions, as the night drew towards the time of the gig, were positive. This was due to the bassist from one of the bands warming up along to a King Crimson track (maybe it was “Starless”) playing on the jukebox.
Opening act, Peterhead’s The Harmonica Movement, consisted of vocalist/guitarist, guitarist/vocalist, bassist/vocalist and drummer. Their first was chugging yet subdued, the lonesome vocal bluesy and soulful. Then it grew pronounced and emphatic.
The vocals became gritty, wailing in pain. It stripped back before bundling back in, again. Passionate licks of lead guitar, accentuated by the bass breaking out, were prominent. A final, brief flourish ended the track.
Drums opened the next one, emotive lead lines and thoughtful bass indicating a more ponderous vibe. The aforementioned drums became driving and propelling. Silence suddenly filled the air, before the band tensely weighed back in. Driving, emphatic. Crashes of cymbal syncopated this intensity.
High register ringing of the bass, hurried and high octane, opened the next. Regimented military rolls kept the song tight and urgent. The vocals, impassioned and somewhat from the mouth of a rogue, really added emotive power. Lines like “I’m a prisoner” seemed to verify those roguish vibes. Lone strums of the guitar, aided by building drum and cacophony from elsewhere, were emphatic.
“Aye, this is a little cover”, indicated something that was actually quite hard to place. Was this a sign of truly making it their own? Anyway, that regimented military roll of the drum reappeared. Stabbing bass really added drama and sense of dynamics. Guitar wild and untamed was coupled with some sharp, popped licks on the bass.
“We’ve got two more songs”, and this one was quite sedate, at least at first. Drums rang out, the soundscape sparse. The line, “I’m here and broken, on my knees”, certainly sought to convey desperation. The immediacy was suddenly cranked up a notch. The bass thumped, and the vocals shouted and implored.
Not so much driving as crushing. “Help me, Jesus” furthering this desperation, whispered as if last breath was drawn before figuratively withering and dying onstage.
Pounding bass drum heralded a despondent anthem, titled “Lies”. It really seemed to rally against said lies. Tribal drums and syncopated bass moodily wielded power, a kind perhaps metaphorically harnessing their truth. Rapturous.
Main support act, Aberdeen’s Steven Milne (lead singer of Aberdeen indie-pop band, The Little Kicks), consisted of lone vocalist/guitarist. This started with wistful, longing strums of guitar with the lines, “Life can always go so fast”. This seemed to convey ponderous, thoughtful poise in vocals and lyrics. Flourishes of high register strum saw the track end impassioned.
The next was slightly more quirky. His ums and ahs conveyed nuances to his range, and also added perfect diversity to the track.
The following one was somewhat sombre, sedate. Strumming was slow, light and maybe withdrawn. “Think I’m f*cking crazy” heralded pleasant, mournful whistling.
The Deportees‘ bassist then joined Steven onstage. This particular one had the vibe of a sea shanty, somewhat. The bass lightly stroked like as if to illustrate the rolling seas. Was the line of, “Shot in the dark, won’t you give it a go” a gun to the head, or walking the plank?
Then there was new single, “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even”. This was searching, striving. His range was so eloquent and expressive. The bass fared with an adept, tidy little lick. “Don’t ask me about the things I can’t control” seemed almost defiant. The vocal harmony was subtle yet imploring.
“This song’s called, ‘This Mess We’re In’”. This opened with a fiddly little riff which seemed a cross between a classical lick and melody to a disco classic (maybe it was Chic’s “Le Freak”). It really felt as if to stroll and ponder, walking off your overloaded thoughts.
“One song, thank you very much”. This heralded a vocal harmony, again, full and celebratory. Strums of guitar were emboldened with chugging of bass.
Headlining were Aberdeen’s The Deportees. They were made up of vocalist/keyboardist, guitarist/vocalist, lap guitarist/vocalist, bassist/vocalist and drummer. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are The Deportees”. They opened sombre and mournful, with “Another Of Us”.
The line, “Like toiling ships in stormy weather” was quite striking. The vocal harmony was glorious yet grave. Bass rung sparse, less is more. Emphatic tom and bass drum built the song climatically. Stabbing chord enforced that feel, with “let’s come together” an impassioned plea.
“A Single Truth” came in with a hit of the drum in tandem with claps as one. Flourishes then indicated danger. Bold and emphatic. Strums of acoustic added dynamic flavour. Strains of lap guitar wailed mournfully, and piano rang out. This was bold with a hint of finality to it. The crowd were urged to clap to the beat before rumbling bass added graveness to proceedings.
Stabbing piano and driving bass kicked off “Calf”. This was a song quite different from all that preceded it. Moody and brooding. The drama built and built. The vocal arrangement really added texture and feel of epic proportions. This combination washed over.
Piano, bold yet thoughtful, pointed “North”. Lap guitar cried out in pain, an indicator of the rather sombre things to come. Drums and guitar came crashing in, yet the dynamics changed to sedate once again. It had a bit of swing to it. Drama aplenty. “There is evil and beautiful faces” ponderous and complex.
Extended guitar, pronounced and expressive, cued “The City, The Sea…”. Then the rest of the band kicked in. Lap guitar lilted and spaced out as ever. Flourishes of drum and guitar were both emphatic and rung with much satisfying clarity. These briefly doubled up for extra majesty.
It was the piano that then took its turn to shine introducing the next track, “B*stard”. This pulled forth a gamut of emotions, arguably spanning numerous styles. Tapping laden guitar aimed for the ethereal. A descending slide of the bass rang with affirming clarity. Its subsequent chugging, moodily building upon the soundscape, a point of note. It almost galloped to another place entirely, ending with much fervour.
Climbing, hopeful strum maybe aimed to “Lessen The Load”, next. “Carry you home, carry you home, my comrade”, the song pleaded. The bassist hurriedly tuned up to keep apace of things midsong. Then there were mournful stabs of piano shifting the emotional spin of the track.
The theme of the sea was revived when they told you, quite frankly, that “I Lost Her To The Sea”. However, it seemed like quite a joyful, ebullient song. The drummer was absolutely loving that irrepressible patter of the toms. Clatter of keyboard keys a cacophony amidst wailing of guitar. Cymbals were like rain upon drum kit in an open air stadium. Acapella closing the song was tuneful and beautiful.
Words by Andrew Watson