Considering that it is a Monday night, by the time Captain and the Kings take to the stage, the small basement of Glasgow’s Captain’s Rest is pretty full. The room is dark, the only lighting worth mentioning coming from the stage where the five members of the band make a few final equipment adjustments before launching into a half-hour set of original material of a very high standard.

The five-piece group is made up entirely of family members – lead guitarist and vocalist Steven Finnie, backing singer Lindsay (his wife), keyboard, violin and mandolin player Jolene (his sister), cousin Jamie on drums and Uncle Jim on bass.

As the set progresses, frontman Steven exudes confidence but never arrogance, and his vocals and guitar playing are faultless. Bass player Uncle Jim provides the glue which holds the band together – funky, melodic bass reminiscent of Bruce Foxton. Vocally, the group is at its best when Jolene and Lindsay chime in to harmonise with lead singer Steven, the three voices blending seamlessly.

The highlight of the set was single 'It is the Mercy', a superbly melodic rocker (which is currently available as a free download from the band’s myspace page).

Towards the end of the set, the band’s confidence was illustrated by their decision to try out two new tracks (as yet unnamed, the songs were introduced as 'New One' and 'New Slow One'). 'New Slow One' in particular illustrated the interplay between Finnie and Uncle Jim - with no other band members playing, it was left to uncle and nephew to riff off each other which they did to great effect.

The band rounded off their set with 'Can’t Go Back', another catchy rocker which again showed off the group vocals to great effect.

Prior to the gig, I was unsure what to expect from Captain and the Kings, but I was far from disappointed by their performance. Simultaneously gutsy and homely, the family vibe comes through in their tight playing but never takes the edge from their performance.

Headlining the evening was Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Sarabeth Tucek. Playing tracks from her recent LP, 'Get Well Soon', Tucek backed herself with acoustic guitar and was ably assisted by album producer Luther Russell on lead guitar.

The pair began their set with album opener 'The Wound and the Bow', a gentle, swooning ballad with softly strummed guitar perfectly complementing Tucek’s airy vocal.

Luther Russell makes his presence felt on the pair’s second song, 'Wooden', punctuating the song with a barrage of distorted power chords which, despite the pastoral feel of Tucek’s own guitar playing and vocal, does not sound out of place.

For me, the best song of the evening was 'The Fireman'. Lyrically, it is the tale of a broken family; “The fireman saved many a home/But the fireman could not save his own.” It’s a genuinely moving song, and Tucek’s execution was faultless.

'Exit Ghost' features some truly blistering guitar from Russell, yet again it is perfectly in keeping with the acoustic-ish theme of the set.

The set finishes with 'Get Well Soon', the title track from Tucek’s most recent album. Again, it is a gentle affair, and while Russell plays a terrific lead guitar, he foregoes any effects to produce a quite background over which Tucek’s vocal can glide.

The true star of the show is Tucek’s voice. It has qualities of Joni Mitchell or Kate Bush, but is equally suited to a Lou Reed style baritone. Her vocals are perfectly judged to get the greatest effect from each song, but her performance is never contrived – instead, her delivery is fresh, natural and sincere.

This was a terrific gig, with two particularly gifted acts. Captain and the Kings are a good rocking band, whom I would happily go to see again. Sarabeth Tucek has the whole package; voice, music, lyrics and, in Luther Russell, a truly talented producer and collaborator. I am very much looking forward to hearing more of her material in the future.

The photographs that accompany this article were taken for Pennyblackmusic by John Ritchie.

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Commenting On: Captain's Rest, Glasgow, 5/9/2001 - Sarabeth Tucek/Captain and the Kings

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