By Mhairi McNeil
Photos By Gary Miller
The Once, supporting Passenger @ 02 Academy 25th November.
I was absolutely blown away by The Once when they supported Passenger at his Glasgow date in his Whispers Tour. This Canadian folk trio took the stage with a genuine sense of excitement and a beautifully humble explanation of how coming from such small towns meant playing to a sold-out Glasgow crowd was a dream come true for them. There was something incredibly soothing about the lead-singer Geraldine Howlett’s vocals; I don’t think I was the only audience member to be completely drawn in from the first word she sang. Their short 30-minute set included some tracks from older albums and from their new album Departures, which I thoroughly recommend you give a listen! Before letting us hear the truly uplifting “We Are All Running”, the band explained how they’d met Passenger (AKA Mike Rosenberg) here in Scotland and how this chance encounter had lead to them joining Mike on the UK leg of his (mostly sold-out) worldwide “Whispers” Tour. That easy-to-love and very much Canadian sense of humbled pride added to my enjoyment of the show. Whilst the other talents of this trio, Andrew Dale and Phil Churchill, amazed us all with their musical abilities when they’d confidently pick up guitars, mandolins, banjos and even a bouzouki to give us more of what was already a truly unforgettable start to a gig. Favourite track of mine was definitely “A Round Again” which was introduced as a song which a bar-singer would use every week to try and serenade the bartender with. Its catchy lyrics and even catchier melody are the perfect example of how fun and upbeat The Once are. These three friends from small towns thousands of miles away managed to grab the attention of a huge Glasgow crowd, and had them tapping their feet and clicking their fingers from start to finish. This was accurately and hilarious highlighted by Andrew Dale, when he thanked the crowd for “giving a shit” – sheer proof that you don’t have to be a chart topper to be a crowd favourite. However, I hope it’s not long before this band gets the recognition they deserve. The world needs more bands like these who deliver gorgeous harmonies, thought-provoking lyrics and a great vibe, which just makes you want to smile and dance along. These fabulous Canucks are welcome back in Glasgow anytime; make sure you’re in the crowd when they next are!*
*The Once will be returning to Glasgow to play King Tut’s on 5th May 2014, get your tickets and I’ll meet you at the bar!