Friday, 26 January 2018

Frank Turner / Will Varley

23rd January 2018

Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

Will Varley supporting Frank Turner comes pretty close to my Dream-Team gig line-up these days.  Had Richard Hawley somehow been shoehorned in between the pair, I think I would probably just have given up writing this blog.  For there would have been nowhere else to go.

2018 is a big upcoming year for Will Varley.  After beetling around the fringes of the alt-Folk scene for a number of years, 2015’s impressive Postcards From Ursa Minor set reflected a deeper maturity to the chap's songwriting, and Big Things were predicted.

But those Things stalled a touch, I felt, with the follow up album: 2016's Kingsdown Sundown.  A much more introspective collection, perhaps reflecting Varley's mood at the time, the songs housed little of the wit and charm of his earlier works.  The majority of the compositions admittedly did reward the persevering listener, with a couple (We Want Our Planet Back and Back To Hell), even fording the consumer relatively easy access.  But for the most part it was an uncompromisingly bleak look at the human condition, with the opener To Build a Wall surely inspired by Daft Donald.   

Significant or not, nothing from that difficult album found its way into Varley's brief set this evening. 

A short UK tour pencilled in for Autumn 2017 had been cancelled to allow Will time to work with producer Cameron McVey on a new album intriguingly entitled Spirit of Minnie.  Two tasters from the collection were aired this evening: the rather low key Statues (which, on first listen put me in mind of Fred Neil's The Dolphins), and a rather more upbeat one, whose title I either failed to catch or was not announced.

We await developments with interest.

Set List

As For My Soul
Seize The Night
Weddings and Wars
From Halcyon
We Don't Believe You
I Got This Email
King For a King

Will Varley - Celtic Connections 2018

Frank Turner - Celtic Connections 2018

Will helped Frank out with the harmonica solo during I Still Believe
(Although I don't believe for a second Varley was actually playing the thing).

As for Frank, well what can one say:  a consummate entertainer and artist.  And it was a complement to both his writing and performing skills that on only a few occasions did I miss the Sleeping Souls during this solo acoustic set.  Indeed, I felt the stripped down arrangements both to The Way I Tend To Be and The Next Storm elevated each of these songs, relieving them of the bombast which tends to smother them live. 

As with Will Varley, Frank was plugging an album which was not yet released, but nevertheless felt confident enough in the new 'uns to present us with four of them.  The poignant Be More Kind appeared the pick of them, although I was less impressed with the gloopy There She Is.  Frank is in love these days we learned; this one being a paean to his current squeeze.  

Whilst not wishing the chap any ill, I do think he writes better when heartbroken.

Set List

Get it Right
Get Better
If I Ever Stray
There She Is
The Opening Act of Spring
The Way I Tend to Be
The Road
Sailor’s Boots
Smiling at Strangers on Trains
Reasons Not to Be an Idiot
Be More Kind
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
The Ballad of Me and My Friends
Once We Were Anarchists
Polaroid Picture
The Next Storm
I Am Disappeared
Somebody To Love
I Still Believe

The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow.

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