Adam Cole at Monk’s Tap House, The Cave

The weekend of National Day … Friday night and I’m in, washing my hair, playing The Killers loudly enough to block out the sounds of people daring to have fun whilst I have no plans. Having left my hairdryer in the UK, I just wait for my hair to dry. On this particular Friday night I decide to do the social media circuit, in the order they appear on my iPad, whilst waiting for said hair to dry.

I only get as far as Instagram, however and only a few posts in because on scrolling down, a friend’s post leaps out at me and my night is sorted.

‘Can I just turn up?’ I message him, thinking he won’t reply because he’s about to get up and perform.

But he does: ‘Just turn up,’ he replies.

So off I wander, with demi-sec hair, down to the taxi station, to barter with a taxi driver over the cost of a five minute drive. On the verge of returning home to get my car and drinking fruit juice all evening, I reach a satisfactory conclusion with the taxi driver and off we go to Monk’s Tap House at The Cave, Darsait Heights.

A five minute drive but a ten minute farewell with the taxi driver.

‘I come later? Take you home?’

‘That would be good,’ I reply.

‘In one hour? In two hours?’

‘Er … I don’t know – I’ll take your number.’

Number taken.

‘Now you call me. A missed call.’

‘Why?’

‘Then I have your number.’

‘Why do you need my number?’

This goes on for some time until I tell him that it’s a nice night and I feel like walking home. Which is obviously a lie as that would mean walking down a busy multi-lane carriageway for quite some time, but I’m walking away from him anyway …

The Cave is a labyrinth of bars, clubs and restaurants pretty much inside a mountain. Hence the name. It actually is a series of caves. I found Monk’s Tap House and there was the star performer, sitting down to a platter heaving with … well, everything. He offered me a spicy chicken wing and I said ‘Aren’t you supposed to be performing?’

He looked around and looked back at me and I saw what he saw – an empty venue.

Adam Cole is one of the most relaxed people I know. Many would have reacted differently but when you’re as at ease with yourself as Mr Cole is and you have every confidence in your musical prowess (and quite rightly so) then why stress?

I joined him and his lovely wife and a friend of theirs (who turned out to be my niece’s friend’s uncle … and yes, it is strange that we managed to make that connection within minutes of meeting each other) and waited for him to make a dent in the heaving platter of everything.

At some point this happened and the show began … a few people had arrived by this time, so it was starting to feel like a proper gig. I was expecting one or two other band members to arrive but Adam is a one-man band. At times, he says, he is joined by a fellow musician or two, but not this night.

A few songs in and I realised that I had completely taken it for granted that I felt like I was listening to a full band. I only ever see Adam play a guitar but I know that he can play many instruments and this was evidenced in his elaborate set-up. He was lead guitarist but flanked by electronic representations of other instruments and considering the number of songs he played, this was clearly a reflection of many hours of preparation.

But what about his performance? Flawless, of course. This was my first experience of Adam at a gig; I have seen him play many times at his popular Open Mic sessions at Copper, but hitherto not at a gig.

Primarily a rock musician, we (not just the three of us – the venue filled at the same rate as our glasses) were treated to covers of Pink Floyd, REM, U2, Oasis … to name a few. All the best rock bands. And when it came to Breakfast at TIffany’s, I marveled at the fact that I had not heard that song for a number of years until the night before, when I was at another gig and here I was hearing it for a second time not 24 hours later. I came to the conclusion that rock music is a bit of a hit in Muscat.

I am in awe of Adam’s tenacity … he reminds me of one of those bunnies from the Duracell adverts. (Well, his tenacity does – you can see from the pictures that he doesn’t look like a bunny at all.) He just keeps going and he shows no signs of flagging and he even had the good grace to turn and smile, while I was taking pictures of his performance. By the time he finished, it was a full venue and by the way, it’s a cool venue. I did not sample their culinary delights but I could see that they were of a good standard. Pleasant staff (who even gave me the WiFi code because I ran out of data) and as with all the venues in The Cave, great ambience. Of course, being inside a mountain gives you a headstart but you have to get the lighting just right to get that ‘inside a cave’ atmosphere, which they do to perfection.

Adam Cole: catch him at Copper Restaurant (Sayh Al Malih Street) every Tuesday night and also performing all over Muscat, so look out for the posters!

Monk’s Tap House: https://www.facebook.com/monkstaphouse/

Reviewed by Lisa O’Connor on Friday 17th November 2017

Advertisements

‘The T-Band’ at Route 66, Qurm Resort

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage and indoorHaving only been in residence in Muscat for a few months, I am still on a newcomer’s voyage of discovery of the live music scene. Initially, I didn’t think there was one. I asked around on arrival and I was told that Cliff Richard was soon to perform at the Royal Opera House Muscat; much as I liked Cliff Richard back in the day, it wasn’t quite what I meant. But gradually, I am peeling back the layers of this busy, bright city to reveal a hidden gem of rock and folk music (I’ll let you know when I stumble across any other genres – I am certain they are here somewhere!).

So when I went out a couple of weeks ago, having made an arrangement to meet friends at ‘a bar where you can dance’, I was unaware that I was about to attend a gig. I raised an eyebrow or two at the entrance fee, mumbling that there were other bars ‘where you can dance’ that do not require an entrance fee. That said, it was clearly one of the smarter hostelries in town, proffering that typically Muscat hospitality of a cornucopian supply of peanuts with your beverages (guaranteed to make you drink more of course, as your mouth starts to feel like the surrounding desert) and popcorn also. Not a personal favourite, but my friends enjoyed it and I managed to avoid telling them how wasteful their posh fragrances were, because all I could smell on them was popcorn.

But when a four-strong band hit the stage and confidently started to throw out some cool nostalgia, I realised that I had paid to see a live rock band.

Image may contain: 1 person, on stage, standing and indoor

They had me at ‘Turn Back Time’ but then they had me a bit more with ‘Creep’ and then again with ‘Losing My Religion’.

When we reached ‘Breakfast at TIffany’s’, one of my friends commented that it was a good song.

‘You know this song?’

‘Yes!’ he said, while his friend laughed.

‘No,’ he admitted, ‘I never heard it in Pakistan but I can like it if I want!’

Absolutely – and testament to a good song – moreover a good cover of a good song, that you can hear it for the first time and like it.

Pink Floyd … Bob Marley … Police … this band has boundless energy and a repertoire to match. I started to jot down the songs but I was there for a drink and a boogie so when there was the inevitable migration from the edges to the dance floor at the centre, I joined my fellow revellers to start my weekend.

I recall a crescendo of Queen and Bon Jovi however, as I danced Thursday night into Friday morning and I was glad that they were playing covers, because much as I love original music, people don’t always dance to little-known songs.

Front man Tarek Khorshid is a powerhouse; flanked by fellow guitarist Adil and bass player Ashraf, he is ably supported by equally powerful musicians. But then my favourite – because he posed and smiled for my picture whilst continuing to maintain that all-important beat at the back of the stage – Akbar on the drums. The newest addition to the band apparently and clearly only there because his name begins with an ‘A’, but what a stroke of luck that he turned out to be as talented as the other three.

Image may contain: 1 person

The T-Band: worth checking out every other Thursday at Route 66 and other venues and more than just a rock band – it’s just that they played mostly rock when I saw them!

https://www.facebook.com/pg/The-T-Band-306340852718661/about/?ref=page_internal

 

Route 66: worth checking out at the weekend for a classy boogie and pleasant outlook over Shatti beach

https://www.facebook.com/Route66Oman/app/267091300008193/?ref=page_internal

 

Reviewed by Lisa O’Connor at Route 66 on Thursday 16th November 2017

Open Mic at ‘Copper’

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, on stage

When you move 4,000 miles from home, you make sacrifices. One such sacrifice for me was my indulgence in live music.

‘You won’t find much of that in Oman!’ said many.

I had been here around a month when a chance conversation led me to ‘Copper’, a burger restaurant in Muscat which boasts an Open Mic session every Tuesday, hosted by the talented and personable Adam Cole, who also hosts radio station Good Morning Oman (90.4 Oman FM).

Burger Bar

Having lived in Brighton in the U.K. all my life, a city bursting with live music in every other pub (and there a pubs aplenty in Brighton), I kept an open mind as I wandered along to ‘Copper’ one Tuesday, remarking to myself that I had never experienced Open Mic in a burger bar. The word ‘bar’ is used loosely here – there are no alcoholic drinks available in ‘Copper’ but as tradition would have it, performers are entitled to one free drink and with a range of delectable drinks on offer, you won’t be disappointed.

Welcoming

‘Anyone here going to perform?’ enquired Adam, the host and I was struck by his welcoming manner; thousands of miles away there were Open Mic hosts back in my home city becoming visibly stressed at the number of wannabe folk/country/indie musicians clamouring to play at whatever pubs were offering Open Mic on a Tuesday, because despite the plethora of pubs offering the opportunity from Sunday-Thursday, it is still highly competitive. (At least, there would be in a few hours, given the time difference!)

My friend who had introduced me to the whole experience volunteered my services but I declined, on the grounds that I had no accompanist.

‘No problem,’ he assured me, ‘I can accompany you. I’ll do a few songs and then you can come up.’

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments and indoor

Varied, Affordable and Tantalising

He did do a few songs – a bit of rock, a bit of Britpop – in the same easy, accomplished style as his hosting. His willingness to accompany me in the only two songs I was prepared to sing, was impressive and encouraged me to return the following week (and no, he had no idea that I might write a review!).

By the time I rejoined my friends, their food had arrived and I regretted my weakness in returning home from work, as I had already given in to hunger pangs. The menu at ‘Copper’ is varied, affordable and tantalising, especially when you are watching others and not eating yourself! As a vegetarian, eating out can be tricky, but there was ample choice for awkward customers like me.

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people standing, guitar and indoor

Covers and Originals … Indie and Blues

Adam set the standard for the evening with his opening songs and the rest of the performers certainly made the mark too; with a mixture of covers and original songs, this is quality music providing a gentle ambiance for a midweek evening out. With songs ranging from rock, indie, old blues favourites like Mustang Sally and more recent offerings such as Adele covers, ‘Copper’ is worth checking out on a Tuesday night, whether you want to strut your stuff yourself or eat burgers whilst others strut their stuff. Or just work your way through fizzy fruit cocktails.

Image may contain: one or more people

Visit www.copper.restaurant or visit their Facebook page for more info.

Lisa O’Connor

Folk Off Sessions at the Fiddler’s Elbow

In amongst the frenzy of the Fringe, is an understated array of talent hidden away in a pub you have to be looking for to find.

“I was just cutting through from West Street to The Lanes and I stumbled across it,” said one chap, of the Fiddler’s Elbow (Boyces Street). It just so happened that said chap was lucky enough to stumble into the welcoming Irish pub during one of their Folk Off Sessions, which become a weekly event every Thursday during the Brighton Fringe.

On this particular Thursday, the evening began with the gravelly-voiced Justin Saltmeris, accompanying himself on the guitar. But Justin has more than gravel to his voice; he is a powerhouse, vocally and his voice easily filled the tiny pub with an unwavering mix of strength and melody.

Jane Gilbert followed, with her slightly haunting folk songs, treating us to her talented voice with a clarity that is reminiscent of the gentlest of bells.

The popular Night House were the third act to entertain us, featuring the distinctive Nick Williams and his boundless versatility. Hopping from keyboard (complete with synthesiser) to guitar and throwing a drum machine into the proceedings, evidently adapting his style throughout his own set, this is a musician who can reinvent himself in the space of 45 minutes. Not only does Nick have complete mastery over a complete orchestra of instruments, but also he has a vocal range that would be the envy of any artiste: male or female. His style is folk meets rock with a surprise visit from synthesised sounds of the ‘80s and the result is a juxtaposition of nostalgia and music with a sci-fi slant (well, it sounded sci-fi  in the ’80s). Treating us to his own songs – ‘Fade Away’, ‘Sea Ocean’ and ‘Back Out’ topped my list – it is difficult to fathom that his set was only 45 minutes long, as he showcased too much talent, surely, for one musician.

Kwil, a four-person folk band, rounded off the evening with their beautifully confident harmonies. The last band to play at a showcase night risks playing to a depleted audience, as people start to wend their way out of the venue; but the presence of a thronging audience was testament to their very listenable music.

“Will you come here again?” I asked Lucky Chap.

“I doubt it,” he shrugged, to my surprise.

“This Guinness is so good,” he continued, “and so cheap … I’ve drunk so much that I’m not sure where I am anymore. Is this place even real?”

And he stumbled back out as the May mist swallowed him up.

So the Fiddler’s Elbow Folk Off Sessions really are such stuff as dreams are made on, it would seem. Last Fringe session next week, so find out for yourself. ‘Like’ them on Facebook to keep track of their regular sessions and all the bands have FB pages too.

Reviewed by Lisa O’Connor at the Fiddler’s Elbow on Thursday May 4th 2017.