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Abdul Teegay's Rokoto Edinburgh Footlights in Concert
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ANOTHER WALK ACROSS THE ROOFTOPS
Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 18 Mar.
The Arctic bite of Glasgow’s old Fruitrnarket, the only venue in the city where you put your coat and gloves on to go inside, may not provide the best climate for an intimate evening cabaret, but having the audience sit hunched round cafe tables, watching their breath frost before their eyes in the candlelight is at least a preparation for the polar moods evoked by this unexpected gem of a production. Strathclyde Orchestral Productions are celebrating The Blue liile’s music by placing it in a context that equally highlights its icy abnospherics and its personal charm.
The dramatic framework for the show is a mock light radio broadcast. Jimmy Chisholm, last seen towering over the cast as the dame in the King’s panto, is your obsequious host, exchanging oily, cliched banter with Michael Cannon, leader of the mini-orchestra composed oi handicapped and able- bodied musicians clad in starched evening attire. Fletcher Mathers is the vibe controller, whooping it up in the background like a sassier Joyce Grentell.
Flapper favourites like ‘liappy Feet’ are interspersed with material from ‘A Walk Across The Booftops’ and ‘Hats’ with reasonable ﬂuency, evoking a blend of between-the-wars big band atmosphere and the post-war rise of the crooner and his sharp-dressed
backing musicians. The band exploit the latter mode to the ubnost in their interpretation of The Blue liile material, and you only wonder that The Blue liile have never made more of the Broadway connotations of ‘nowntown lights’ and ‘Automobile lloise’.
Vocal duties rotate and most prove themselves up to the task. Chisholm possesses a powerlul set of tonsils, but it’s Cannon who really distinguishes himself on the opening ‘Over The Hillside’ with a voice as rich and emotive as Dead Can Oance’s Brendan Perry. Only a leaden ‘Tlnsel Town’ lets down the side. Elsewhere, it’s the ringing percussion that truly liberates each rendition.
Paul Buchanan, in attendance tonight and liberal with his applause throughout, cannot fail to have been impressed with this animated realisation of his music. (Fiona
lioyal Lyceum, Edinburgh, 13 March. You have to see him live, you really do. While the strength of Christy Moore’s material, and the subtlety of his delivery can be appreciated to an extent from his albums, his recordings in the past have suffered somewhat from over-production (though his latest, ‘King Puck’, displays a welcome shift to a barer, harder approach), and besides, the real magic is in the man’s extraordinary presence, which - for instance — enabled him to hold a big, boisterous Barrowland crowd utterly in his sway tor 90 minutes last November: not bad for a nearly-SO-year-old up there alone with his guitar. In the more intimate surroundings of the lyceum, as he kicks off a new series of Regular Music gigs there (Otis Bush and John Martyn follow in April and May), his personality lust fills the place.
Striding on for the last of three sold- out nights, he wears the relaxed, totally assured air of a man born to work on a stage. lie strolls Into the first verse of Jackson Browne’s ‘Before The Oeluge’, his long-
customary opener, and the spell is cast, to remain unbroken for the next two hours, as he builds inexorably to a belting, breathtaking climax, the passion and conviction in his rich, husky voice matched by the delicacy with which he articulates every phrase. Favourites like ‘Ordinary Man’, ‘lilde On’ and ‘Oon’t Forget Your Shovel’ are judiciously mixed in with newer ‘liing Puck’ material, lighter numbers such as ‘The Rose of Tralee’ and ‘Lisdoonvarna’ leavening the quiet, mesrnerlc intensity of songs about the persecution of women or of travellers; during one about a teenage girl dying in childbirth, sung in an impassioned near-whisper to the stark pulse of a bodhran, I almost forget to breathe.
‘Is it folk or is it art, is it rock ’n’ roll?’ he asks during one of his marvellous semi-lmprovised-blarney introductions. ‘Acld house or cellidh house, does anybody know? Agit-prop or avant-garde - who gives a fuck?’ We sure as hell don’t, lost as long as he keeps on singing. (Sue Wilson)
30 The List 25 March—7 April I994