Having been plunged into the big time when his singing and songwriting talents won him an unsigned act award on Channel 4 in 2009, this year Tommy Reilly – who plays a solo show in Lerwick next week – has been enjoying a bit of well-earned down time.
Two albums and two years of touring on the back of having a number 14 UK chart hit with Gimme A Call saw Reilly performing solo and with a band, also warming up audiences for acts including the Proclaimers and Justin Currie from Del Amitri.
The 22-year-old’s gig at the Lerwick Legion next Wednesday evening is the first stop on a four-date tour, a double bill alongside his friend, singer Katie Sutherland from Scottish group Pearl and the Puppets. The pair are also off to Inverness, Forres and Stornoway on a jaunt which will allow Reilly to air songs from his forthcoming third album for the first time.
He described the last two years as “good fun”, if “a bit mad”. In 2009 his debut LP Words On The Floor came out, and it was followed by last year’s Hello! I’m Tommy Reilly. He said: “It was pretty intense – I went to having loads of gigs from having not many.”
After 24 hectic months, he began this year by taking part in a 70th birthday tribute night for Bob Dylan in Glasgow Concert Hall in June, where he performed It Ain’t Me, Babe. Since then, 2011 has been fairly low-key and “chilled out”.
This summer, working with Franz Ferdinand knob-twiddler Paul Savage, he completed album number three – though the Dunbartonshire-raised singer is in no great hurry to get it out there. It will come out sometime in early 2012. “I’m not in a mad rush,” he said. “I’m really taking my time. I just wanted to get it right.”
Though they grew up only a few miles apart, he didn’t get to know Sutherland until both became involved in the music industry in Glasgow. She got her record deal – with Elton John’s label – shortly after Reilly. Pearl and the Puppets’ brand of indie-pop has graced adverts for mobile phone companies and perfume manufacturers.
“I bumped into her in Glasgow and found out she had stayed near me,” Reilly said. “She got a deal not long after I did … and it was good having a mate that was in London a lot.”
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s gig, he told The Shetland Times: “Hopefully it’ll be a lot of fun. I’ll do some new songs, old songs, maybe a couple of songs that aren’t mine – [it should be] a nice wee winter gig.
“We might do a song or two together, we’ll see how it goes. I’m really excited. I’ve always wanted to play up around the Highlands. It’s mad, you go away [abroad] on holiday but there’s loads of bits of Scotland you haven’t seen.”
Although he does enjoy touring with a backing band, Reilly said he was relishing the prospect of performing solo. “Playing by yourself is fun, you can take it easy and change the set. You can just do what you want, which is nice – a bit of freedom.”
• For the chance to win a pair of tickets to next Wednesday’s gig at the Legion in Lerwick, send in your answers to the following question, along with your name and contact telephone number. What is the title of the UK top 20 single which kick-started Tommy Reilly’s career in 2009? Email email@example.com or write to Shetland Times Competition, Gremista, Lerwick, ZE10PX. The winner will be drawn on Tuesday 15th November.