Thursday, 17 April 2014

Withered Hand

Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh 17th April 2014

Schedule for the evening:

Dan Mutch - 19:30 - 20.00
Jo Foster - 20:15 - 20:45
Withered Hand 21:00 - 22:00

Withered Hand

I've been following Dan Willson (Mr Withered Hand) since about 2009 when the album Good News came out. Various EP's were available before and after this album:  
Religious Songs (2008), You're Not Alone (2009), Heart Heart (2012) and Inbetweens (2012)
..but it was the release of New Godsin March 2014, that really got the media all fired up. The album contained guest appearances from a veritable who’s who of Scottish music include: King Creosote, Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines, and members of Belle & Sebastian (Stevie Jackson, Chris Geddes) and Frightened Rabbit (Scott Hutchison). Listen to some samples from New Gods here
The gig in Edinburgh's Liquid Rooms featured the full New Gods band: Alun Thomas, Malcolm Benzie, Pam Berry, Fraser Hughes and Peter Liddle. Even Kenny Anderson (Mr King Kreosote) came to watch.

Dan was on fine form - joshing with the very receptive crowd "This is the first time we've played a venue with crowd control barriers" (there was a rail just in front of the stage) and "So nice to play Edinburgh again - not too far to go home tonight".
They kicked off with Horseshoe (Here I stand with a face like somebody died, when you're ignoring me) and Black Tambourine (I'm older now, but I feel the same & isn't everyone lonely?) - real crowd pleasers. The sound was really great in the small venue, with saxhorn, trumpet, cello, guitar, bass, accordions, drums and lots of backing vocals.

Much has been said about Dan's childhood spent as a Jehovah’s Witness and his formative years chasing punk music and failed romance. These influences shone through in his songs,  each delivered with rich and self-effacing wit.
Favourite moments were Love Over Desire, King of Hollywood and Between True Love and Ruin - all up-tempo full band epics. Funniest moment - the Band launched into Not Alone, and as Dan started to sing, he forgot the words. Stopping the band he said "You know, I wrote the words on my arm" (shows the crowd) "but when I'm playing guitar, I can't see what I've written!". Dan then read his arm carefully, and trying to be serious, launched into Not Alone take 2 - occasionally glancing at the lyric crib on his arm with comic effect. Not Alone was a horn filled epic and completed the main set.

The encore was enthusiastically called for, and Dan returned to the stage alone to perform Cornflake (John Harvey Kellogg doesn't want me for a sunbeam, Won't someone help me roll away the stone). The rest of the band then returned, and they finished with Religious Songs (my hair’s getting too long for this congregation) and Heart Heart, a fine pop-thrash finale.

It was a very fine performance, and we all left feeling Not Alone

Full set-list was:
Black Tambourine
New Dawn
King of Hollywood 
Love over Desire
Between True Love and Ruin
New Gods
Fall apart
Not Alone x2
Cornflake (solo just Dan on guitar)
Religious songs
Heart Heart

Jo Foster

Singer songwriter and musician originally from London, but now living in Fife, Jo Foster plays piano and guitar (and apparently paints and makes pottery too). She came to my attention when she sang vocals on Withered Hand’s debut album “Good News” and was part of the original Fence Records Collective. Her songs are melodic and reminiscent of many genres (e.g. she gave a fine performance at the Ivor Cutler tribute gig in Aberdeen in Jan 2007). Captain Geeko on drums, Uncle Beesly on bass.
Jo seemed pleased to be there and had many supporters in the crowd. Her voice (and range) was impressive, the songs were well written, and obviously often performed  numbers. She said at one point "Sorry, I'm not saying much - normally I ramble on a great length, but we've only got 30 mins" so I was left guessing at the set-list as she didn't announce a single number. She switched from guitar to keyboards half way through and her songs were sometimes upbeat, with drums and bass driving the rhythm, and sometimes very ethereal. I enjoyed Jo's set and was pleased to see that she got a good reception.

Here are some samples of Jo's songs on the Web:
MadelainaDead Songs Of The SeaI Walk In The Room

Set-list was (roughly I think):
I Walk In The Room 
Dead Songs Of The Sea
Home Town?
Looking all my life 
Hold On Gordon

Dan Mutch 

I was not sure what to expect of Dan Mutch - described variously in the press as "Edinburgh-based arthouse indie maverick" and "mercurial junkyard auteur" with "manic spleen-venting songwriting". He was a major part of the bands Khaya, then Desc, and is now involved in The Leg. Some reviews of his more recent work with The Leg were not entirely encouraging, but he did write "Joy" on the Withered Hand Good News album, and that's a fine track. Anyway this was to be a solo outing for Dan, so I was definitely willing to listen and make up my own mind.
Dan strolled onto the stage with his guitar and sat with it on his knee. He began to play some rather impressive slide and I thought "this is going to be good". 
However, Dan then began singing. A song I can only guess was called Tarantula Nebula (I don't eat spiders and I sleep in a bed) - this was William Burroughs meets Mark E Smith stuff. Definitely an acquired taste. Someone not too far from me said "I don't like Dan Mutch much" but the songs and the playing were actually very good, it was the delivery and lyrics that let them down IMO.
Make your own mind up - listen to some tracks here: Oozing A Crepuscular Light Nov 2013 - The Leg

Set-list was (but I am guessing mostly): 
Tarantula nebula?
An Eagle To Saturn
God Don't Like it
Jungle Bells in Summertime
Floating up to the surface?
Dam Uncle Hit

No comments:

Post a Comment