Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Solo Male Singers in Glasgow This Week What I Have Seen

Live Review: Dick Gaughan, Cottiers, Glasgow and Momus, The Poetry Club, Glasgow

In the week when Robbie is playing two nights at Hampden there has been a more varied selection of menfolk singing in Glasgow worth seeing. Over three nights I have seen three men perform with a combined age of 181 years. Does this mean I am officially no longer down with kids?
First up was 63 year old Bruce Springsteen strutting his stuff for 17 hours on stage at Hampden.
Then two days later I stumbled across 65 year old Dick Gaughan playing at Cottiers on Thursday 20th of June. When I say "stumbled across" I mean it literally, as I bought a ticket after passing him puffing away on a fag at the stage door as I was walking home. I was sorry to miss him at a recent Celtic Connections Spanish Civil War concert due to him having a sore throat.

Dick Gaughan in Cottiers
I first came across him when he was part of a Scottish delegation to Moscow that I was part of as a youth. He kindly took me under his wing a bit when I was there. Also there in 1985 were EBTG (Tracey Thorn was in Glasgow a few weeks ago promoting her book) and the fantastic Misty in Roots who I missed when they played the ABC in Glasgow this week. Dick Gaughan is a stalwart of the Scottish folk scene, particularly known for his political songs. Once a member of The Boys of the Lough he usually sings unaccompanied except by his acoustic guitar, of which he is a fantastic player. If you don't know his stuff the album 'Handful of Earth' would be a good place to start. Between songs he talked about a variety of issues. He spoke of his longstanding support for Scottish independence and of his frustration at the conflation in the current debate with supporting independence and supporting the SNP. It is an important point being lost in the independence debate that self-determination by definition means we get to decide what type of Scotland we want to live in - not just the SNP vision that is being held up as the inevitable consequence. His other interesting nugget was regarding Thomas Muir of Huntershill and the theory that this political reformer was an inspiration for Robert Burns's 'Scots Wha Hae'. I'll listen to that song again a bit more closely with that insight. The best songs of the night were some of the political ones which seemed as relevant today in Tory Britain as when they were first written. No Gods (and Precious Few Heroes) was a stand out song.

Funky furniture at The Poetry Club
Two days later I ended up at the Poetry Club to see the comparatively young Momus (aged 53). This space is run by artist Jim Lambie (no relation to Partick Thistle's legendary manager I believe). Hidden away amongst some industrial spaces under the railway arches at Yorkhill beside SWG3 it is a cosy wee space decked out in popart-style tables, with the smoke machine hidden in a steam train on the wall. It feels quite groovy and hip, but author/ comic book writer Grant Morrison was the only groovy and hip person I spotted there. Momus is the pseudonym of Nicholas Currie (at this point it is compulsory to point out that he is the cousin of Del Amiti's Justin Currie). He wobbled about on stage, spouting his thoughts over an electronic backing track and video. Whilst his references all sound interesting (Saki, Dostoyevsky and Grace Jones all being mentioned) I really don't think he is saying anything about these people and their ideas except name-checking. I had the same problem when I read his books, in particular The Book of Scotlands which was distracting enough but ultimately had nothing to say. His performance had the same problem for me. I don't mean everything needs to have an agenda, but it is a fine line between 'art for art sake' and feigning depth.
Sometimes I think people need to be a bit angrier about stuff, or at the very least get a bit peeved. No?

Sighthill Stone Circle with Glasgow Uni tower poking over the horizon in one direction...

Anyway if you feel mildly irked by anything, I would suggest getting out and moaning about it publicly. Why not start with Glasgow City Council's plans to rip up the often ignored stone circle at Sighthill, if for no better reason than that its construction wound up Maggie Thatcher? You could do worse than head to The Platform on the 27th of July to see a fantastic line up of acts "tut" disapprovingly at these plans. Tickets here.

Sighthill Stone Circle with Sighthill tower blocks poking over the horizon in the other direction

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