Sunday, 12 March 2017

Darius Rucker

10th March 2017

Glasgow Armadillo

I have headed this one Darius Rucker, as he was the act I primarily went along to see this evening, but he was not headlining – that particular honour fell to one Reba McEntire.  I had never even heard of this lady beforehand, and was slightly startled to learn she has (to quote the occasionally reliable Wikipedia):

released 26 studio albums, acquired 40 number one singles, 14 number one albums, and 28 albums have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum in sales.....and she is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 85 million records worldwide.

85 million records!  She has also enjoyed her own US TV sit-com, and apparently appeared in the horror movie Tremors, which I have seen.  And I had never heard of her!  It just goes to show that, whilst I pretend to myself that I possess a reasonable depth of knowledge covering a number of musical genres, in reality I am barely scraping the surface.

This fact was further underlined this evening as I was wandering from the car park to the Armadillo, when I noted large numbers of mostly young folks (many of Asian subcontinent extraction) queuing up to get into the adjacent (and much larger) Hydro Arena.  Clearly yet another act of some significance was in town tonight.

Seeking out the Merch Stall for clues I learned Weekend were playing this evening.  Now this struck me as very odd, for I remember Weekend as naught but a briefly fashionable (but never terribly successful) Eighties Indie band.  

A second glance, however, showed showed the name of the act had an E missing, and were actually called Weeknd – whom I later learned to be a sweary Canadian R&B singer of some renown.  Who had also passed me by completely.  I truly am just floundering about in deep, deep water.

Anyway, back to Darius.  Like most folks, I suppose, he first came to my attention as the lead singer with American band Hootie and The Blowfish, upon the release of their excellent debut album Cracked Rear View.  And perhaps again like many folks, I sort of lost interest once the hits stopped flowing.  Rucker left the band around 2008 to pursue a career in country music, and a rather decent fist he has made of things since – his True Believers album being particularly fine.  Although I am not sure I would class it as country music.

Darius Rucker - Glasgow 2017

Perhaps not used to being second on the bill, I have to say Darius appeared a touch remote this evening, spending the whole performance sporting a whopping-sized baseball cap which obscured much of his face.  His audience interaction was pretty much limited to a rant on the pigeonholing of music into genres.  Perhaps that was aimed at me, as it is something I can be guilty of.

But when he and the band clicked, as they assuredly did on the likes of Radio, True Believers, This and Alright, this was special stuff.  But it was Rucker's choice of covers which I found a touch eccentric, for they certainly were a decidedly mixed bunch.

Garth Brooks' Friends in Low Places, which received a delighted cheer of welcome from the auditorium, rocked along just fine.  The woman in the seat next to me bellowed along with every word, punching the air, and squirming around in her seat as if her husband had just turned her Sybian up to 11.  The band's version of Blackstreet's No Diggity, was a bit of a duffer though.

Even Rucker's ace card – his version of Old Crow Medicine Show/Bob Dylan's Wagon Wheel – also appeared rather lumpen.  Perhaps, and this would not surprise me in the slightest, he is sick of the god-darned song.  For there was little sign of the subtle nuances his velvet-rich voice brought to the studio recording; his vocals this evening at times veering dangerously close to mere shouting at some points in the song.

The brace of Blowfish tunes - Hold My Hand and Only Wanna Be With You – were just grand, though.

The set closer was a surprising rendition of Prince's Purple Rain.  I have never had much time for this tune, nor anything much of Prince's if truth be told.  I always felt there to be a touch of The Emperor's New Clothes with the little chap's reputation; no-one daring to criticise His Purpleness.  Rucker's interpretation was, well, adequate I suppose.  He had been encoring with Champagne Supernova on his previous tour, so I believe: that I would have liked to have heard.

Darius Rucker Set List

Lighter Up
Southern State of Mind
If I Told You
True Believers
1st Time
It Won't Be Like This for Long
Friends in Low Places
No Diggity
Hold My Hand
Homegrown Honey
Only Wanna Be With You
Come Back Song
Wagon Wheel
Purple Rain

Darius Rucker - Glasgow 2017

Headliner Reba McEntire ambled onstage to a rapturous “Reba, Reba” chant, and I decided to hang around to see what she had to offer.  Her opening two songs Can't Even Get The Blues and The Fear of Being Alone sounded, to my ears anyway, just your average run-of-the-mill Grand Ole Opry fodder, with Ms McEntire's singing sounding just a touch reedy and shrill.  But she swiftly found her voice, so to speak, and the next few tunes enjoyed more of a bluegrass feel to them, and (particularly, How Blue) were fun.

She was a personable and witty host, but her genre (Darius would hate me) was not quite my cup of tea.  And when she announced she was going to perform a couple of “inspirational songs” I thought “uh-oh”.  Give the World Back to God truly was as awful as the title threatened – a real pig of a composition, in fact.  Her rendition of that negro spiritual dirge Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, was saved by some deft picking by the band's two guitarists....but only just.

When she next presented us with a gloopy, saccharine-dripping tune written by her daughter-in-law (some USA-Got-Talent type show winner), I said my Excuse-Me's to Mrs Sybian – who was still having a whale of a time - and discretely left.

Reba McEntire - Glasgow 2017

Reba McEntire (and Mike Johnson) - Glasgow 2017

The Hand of God reaches down to drag Reba offstage.

Reba McEntire - Glasgow 2017

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