Charlotte Marshall & The 45s – Cottiers

Posted: January 23, 2016 in Uncategorized



Charlotte Marshall & The 45s @ Cottiers, Glasgow

When Charlotte Marshall asked me if I would shoot the show at Cottiers on Saturday night there wasn’t any answer that entered my head but “Yes!”

“Charlotte Marshall and The 45s” is one of those bands that work…as a band.  To explain that last statement further. They fill every minute with shared, beautifully executed and tastefully considered, ego free glimpses of a small sample of what they are capable of.  The result is you are always left wanting more and this continues throughout the set.

I’ve already done portraits and interviews individually for Charlotte, Fraser and Tim (Clarke) for this site and over the course of the project hope to get all of the players on here as each one has a phenomenal talent and no doubt a story to tell.

There were 4 bands playing tonight. All good and all very different. Charlotte was headlining and, as is the case with most gigs of this nature, the first couple of bands played to a gradually increasing audience who took their time to warm up…literally. It had been snowing all day and looking at the turnout, I started wondering if the weather was going to have a serious impact on the gig.

As people came in I heard some muttering about the lack of seating and “Why is there that huge space in the middle? They could have put loads of seats there!”

I had a wee smile to myself. I’ve seen the band before and I know what happens when they get cookin’.

Photographically, Cottiers is a dream. Huge, ornate, dramatic. It’s an old church, originally decorated by Daniel Cottier and taken on by the Four Acres Charitable Trust back in the early 90s. Restoration has been ongoing since then and there is still some way to go. The obvious disrepair and grandeur adds an imposing and very “cool”, almost grungy element to the atmosphere. The clash of a modern LED lighting rig and hefty PA add to the incongruity of the venue. At this point it is worthy to note the huge efforts that are being put into to restore the site and it is heart-warming and exciting to know that we will have this venue for years to come and that it is being looked after.

As I stood at the front of the stage I turned around and behind and high above me against the faraway back wall, towered the pipes of the original church organ. Imposing and bathed in a dull purple LED glow. I couldn’t help wondering how the sound from those 150 year old pipes would have mixed in with a Nord Elektro.

A pulse of electricity went through the crowd, I turned round and Charlotte was on stage.

Opening track, boom! I had to work hard during the first track, there were solos going off like fireworks from one side of the stage to the other. Piano, then sax, then guitar and all the time Charlotte grinning, spinning and strutting all over the stage. There was no gradual build up here! These guys were “ON”. This was Audio Visual Central and the train had left the station!

Having played in bands for years, the standard of musicianship and professionalism is blindingly obvious to me but it is so slick that it looks effortless.

The horn section is just one of the things that sets the band apart.   Gordon Dickson(Saxophone) and Fenwick Lawson(Trombone) are amongst the tightest brass players you’ll find.  If you have horns in a band I always think it can be tricky to get the arrangement just right.  Too little and it looks a bit weird, too much and there’s no space for vocals and fills.  Some bands find it hard with 4 or 5 players but to have 7 takes a real talent and a lot of control but the 45s got the mix right all the way through the set.

Tim (Brough – Keys) and Fraser are equally as at home laying down the groove as they are blistering through their solos.  There’s no self-indulgence.  Get in…do what you need to do… and get back out.  Fantastic!

The guys holding it all down at the back are Tim (Clarke) on bass and Michael Harrison on drums.  Again, professional, understated and tight but with the ability to lift the roof and drive the groove to the limit when occasion calls for it.  Perfect!

Obvious also is the level of stage-craft that is demonstrated by Ms Marshall. From the outset she pulls the audience in closer, physically reaching out and breaking down barriers, removing inhibitions, encouraging engagement. She does this also with the musicians in the band, gesturing for them to push the boundaries. Always aware of everything around her, she tracks the players, the audience and even the photographer to make sure everyone gets what they need.

The set flew by far to quickly, incorporating mostly original material.  The one cover that did stand out was the opening number…”Soulful Dress” by Sugar Pie Desanto…what a track!!

I could go on and on but I’ll keep it short and just advise you to sign up to the band’s Facebook page below and get along to their next gig!


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