Believe it or not, The Windsor Hotel in Kirkcaldy was the place to be last Friday night. With a lineup boasting six up-and-coming acts, all for a mere fifteen quid, it was no wonder the venue was packed to the rafters. The buzz surrounding the event was palpable, it was enough to warm the cockles of even the most cynical music fan.

Unfortunately, we arrived a tad late and missed the opening acts, Rosie Alice and Neeve Zarah, but from what we heard, they set the stage on fire with their performances. The energy in the room was electric right from the start, and we couldn’t help but feel a pang of regret for not catching their sets.

Nevertheless, we wasted no time diving into the action, arriving just in time to catch Newcastle’s own Frankie Dobson take the stage. This young lad has swagger and confidence in spades and soon had everyone’s full attention as the band blasted through a set of hooky, glam-soaked punk numbers that brought back memories of Generation Terrorist era Manics, possibly triggered by Dobson’s uncanny resemblance to the infamous Richey Edwards. Look forward to seeing how his career progresses, he certainly seems to have what it takes.

Up next were The Lutras from Dumfries. They played an impressive, albeit short set of folk-tinged rock numbers and it’s safe to assume these lads have been soaking in the classic sounds of their (grand)parents’s 60’s & 70s vinyl collections. Sitting somewhere in the soundscape between Crowded House and Razorlight’s folkier moments. With infectious melodies and tight harmonies their sound is tailor-made for the bigger venues they’ll no doubt be playing before too long.

Next up are local favourites, The Castros. Taking their inspiration from the early 90s sound of Manchester, they have the trippy guitar melodies and bandy legged grooves of the Happy Mondays or Flowered Up but married to some fantastic melodies. Recent single Idle Man is a stand out! In lead singer Brad Stalker, they have a performer who commands your attention as he prowls the stage punching out the lyrics with supreme confidence. With recent gigs in Manchester, word certainly seems to be getting out of The Kingdom about this band – look out for them at a venue near you.

Ben Walker

A previously unannounced set by one of the most talented beings ever to come out of Montrose, Ben Walker certainly generated a wave of excitement through the room when he was introduced by David (Dovv). He proceeded to treat us to stripped back versions of his recent singles including a duet with Neeve Zarah. It was a great opportunity to fully appreciate the incredible musicianship this 20yr old is gifted with. Can’t help but get the feeling that it was an ‘I was there moment’ to be decanted to anyone who’ll listen every time he plays the Hydro.  


Finally, it’s time for the main event as Dovv and his band of musical mercenaries take the stage. The snakeskin white cowboy boots should have been the giveaway that it wasn’t going to be a Windsor ska night. Over the next hour, we’re taken on roller-coaster ride on a musical journey through the wide-open spaces of Americana-infused rock. Stevens’ tales of family, friendships and overcoming adversities in the world around are delivered by a voice that has the range of Orbison, the power of Meat Loaf and the musical depth of Springsteen. Combined with his super tight band the sound is huge as it engulfed the 200 or so packed into this sold-out show. Highlights were undoubtedly the new single ‘Runaway’ and ‘Backstreets of Your Mind’. No bones about it, this was a seriously uplifting experience.    

All in all, it was a night to remember, a celebration of talent, community, and the power of live music. As we made our way home, still buzzing from the excitement of the evening, we couldn’t help but feel grateful for venues like the Windsor Hotel and the vibrant music scene they support. Here’s to many more nights like this in the future!

Words & Pictures: Calum Mackintosh @ayecandyphotography