JAMnesty is a great, easygoing event to go along to. In support of Amnesty International, a few singers and bands took part to make for a lovely, informal evening in a familiar venue. Held in Sandy’s Bar, it was a small crowd, but I think that probably made it a bit more relaxing for performers, and everyone seemed to feel at ease as the hours trickled by.
First up were Turtles and Tulips, performing in front of an audience for the very first time. Covering bands like Nirvana, this is obviously a band longing for the 90’s grunge scene – although the lead guitarist’s hair was far too shiny for the likes of Kurt Cobain. They did very well for first-time performers – and hopefully by the next time they perform, they’ll have the drummer they’ve been dreaming of.
Ukelear Fusion were undoubtedly the stars of the show. If you tell someone you’re in a band made up entirely of ukulele players, their first reaction is probably to run a mile. However, from Space Oddity through to Hotel California, they were entirely charming. They were missing two key members of the band, and seemed to be deciding which songs to perform on the spot, but their adorable disorganisation was completely dwarfed by their charm, talent and originality. Never have ukuleles been so enthralling.
The Hummingbirds were the biggest name playing, and as usual, they had a very well-put together performance and each member was pitch perfect. Even as someone who is not the biggest fan of a cappella, they did a very good job of winning me over, with their melodies as harmonious as their matching blue shirts.
We then had two solo acts: Meghan Nicholson and Luke McWatters. As can be expected from anyone on an acoustic guitar, we heard a lot of Ed Sheeran from both of these acts. Both were very pleasant to listen to, and by this point in the evening the bar had settled into relaxed chatter, which I’m sure made for a less daunting audience than the first few acts, who were playing to silence and rapt attention.
Amnesty International is a fantastic cause, and the St Andrews team did a wonderful job of creating a low-key atmosphere for the event. Around the little tables in Sandy’s Bar, it was easy to just branch off into small groups, have a few drinks and appreciate the live music.
Ukelear Fusion and the Hummingbirds are both performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year.