Wintersong Festival, The Platform, Easterhouse - Gig Review. November 2014
I've been to a couple of events at The Platform in Easterhouse now and always found it a great venue. Nice staff, decent spaces for performances and just about accessible from the city centre with a short walk from Easterhouse train station or, as on this occaision, those nice people at Mono often run a bus to gigs. It goes without saying that this is what the people of Easterhouse have to do in reverse when gigs are elsewhere.
Wintersong was billed as "an evening of music and song based around the theme of winter". With eight acts lined up it promised to be a busy evening and Northumbrian guitarist and singer Steve Malley (who performs as Horse Loom) had the task of kicking things off whilst it had hardly got dark outside, or many people had yet got to the bar. He admitted to not having done his homework on the winter theme but played a grand set of folk-tinged tunes, and told some creaky jokes. (On a side note if you Google "Horse Loom band" you do get to see some lovely ponies that people have made with those colourful wee rubber bands, I bet he never thought of that when he chose the name.)
Next up Plinth had Michael Tanner, sporting beard and sailor's cap, and friend looping their accordion and violin into bleak drones. Then Howie Reeve played solo with his acoustic bass, giving us lyrics like a "one legged pigeon pecking at a battered sausage" and looking on winter as a political winter we are going through in the post-referendum Britain of David Cameron.
The winter theme gave Alasdair Roberts plenty of scope to indulge a very Scottish list of seasonal cold hearts, death, betrayal and poison. His folk leanings seem to view winter as a dark place. Mesmerising as ever, I could have watched him perform for another hour, but the tight schedule didn't allow for that and it was back across the hall again to hear Richard Youngs. At this point it is obligatory to use the phrase "prolific and diverse" to describe Richard's musical output. Tonight he bemoaned a sore throat, so he played guitar whilst his young son Sorley was the star of the evening with a 30 minute, impeccably delivered piece. He'd suggested that the piece was based upon the 154 days between the clocks going back and then forwards again in the spring, 14x11 dividing the piece (also the same number as Shakespeare's sonnets by the way). Whatever the reasoning it was the stand out performance of the night.
As Grumbling Fur Alexander Tucker and Daniel O'Sullivan and a lot of kit delivered a half hour set of psychedelic electro-prog-rock. Very enjoyable it was too and I'd look out for them performing again. They feigned an attempt to find a wintery theme to their songs, but Louis Abbot, lead singer of Scottish band Admiral Fallow, didn't even pretend. As he tried out the novelty of playing solo, it did feel a wee bit as if he was missing his band.
Finally, the previous Scottish Album of the Year winner RM Hubbert played a specially composed instrumental piece on unaccompanied guitar, giving us a quieter, more reflective perspective of winter, like a wee mouse having to "thole winter's sleety dribble". I wouldn't have been surprised to step outside to find the silence that a sudden 6 inches of snow creates, but it was the usual mild, wet Glasgow winter nonsense and the strum of the traffic on the M8 back to town soon shook me out of my tranquil repose.