Sneaky Petes in the arches of Edinburgh’s Cowgate is a true rock n roll venue – small, loud, sweaty and informal. The crowd can easily decide whether to pay attention to the musician inches away from them, or sink another Jager with their mates and ignore them. Greg Pearson didn’t have that problem as he took to the stage. He howled with a throaty voice louder, aggressive and more rugged than what you expected to hear when you see him – all styled hair and proper denim shirt. This Edinburgh native has the swagger needed to hold the attention of an excitable Sunday Fringe crowd, and gave the impression that he’s as much along for the ride as everyone there.
His set followed a mixed bill with a lot of promise, put on as part of Haddow on the Fringe – Haddow Fests’ take over of the city’s music venues during theatre season. Wee Matt Wilson was the shaky opener, providing melancholy acoustic background music that just didn’t seem to capture the mood, and as such fell by the wayside.
The charming Jon Paul Palombo had much more success, with the audience singing and laughing along to his upbeat folk rock tales and fantasies. His next upcoming appearance in Edinburgh sees him supported with a backing band, which promises to push his sound up a notch and provide a well needed base for his magnetic personality. Caravan Club were up next, fresh from a sold out show at Edinburgh venue Electric Circus. Their trumpet driven energetic indie got the crowd dancing and once and for all pulled the focus on to the stage and away from the bar.
Brilliant timing for Greg to take the stage…
Pearson is the perfect refreshing change from music’s current acoustic guitar trend; all self deprecating musings and weary angst. His music has an exciting youthful energy with its own growing wisdom. Greg describes his music as having those emotional lyrics and heartbreak, but that ultimately both life and music should be fun. Listening to him and his band, with whom he has a fantastic chemistry, you definitely get that impression. The melodies hold seductive undertones of a Memphis rock n roll style with a very Scottish pulse, making it impossible to keep still to. The crowd enthusiastically joined in to the anthemic chorus on tracks such as ‘Inbetween Us’, whether or not they knew all the words, reflecting how infectious his sound is. The penultimate track was a cover of T-Rex’s ‘Hot Love’, but was done in such a ‘Greg’-owned way that many of us quizzed him after on the title of this new single, not recognising the old standard.
In conversation with him post-gig, Greg was excited about the amount of new faces there, (admittedly with down to the Fringe and the curiosity that goes with it) after relentless gigging on the same circuit. Of the sing-a-longs he enthused that ‘That’s the goal, getting people connecting with the music’. When I asked him about the future, the 23 year old is now intent on cutting back with the live stuff for a while until Haddow Fest in October, still in Edinburgh. He’s not got much in the way of available music, to which he says ‘I want it to be right, not to rush it. There are thousands of bands, but the ones that do well concentrate on the songs, that’s the key. I’m halfway to where I want to be as a musician. I’ve done gig after gig after gig, so that’s ok. But I want what comes out of the studio to sound right’.
Committed to the craft, taking his time and making it sound fun, it could be a very bright future for this boy…