Monday, 1 November, 2021 in Culture, Live Reviews, Music

Into Music Review: Tim Burgess, The Pearlfishers, Duglas T. Stewart

Acts: Tim Burgess, The Pearlfishers, Duglas T.Stewart
Venue: FRETS CONCERTS – Strathaven Hotel
Date:  29 October 2021

On my drive home I was ruminating about what the gig, the music, the experience actually means (I do this often). Suffice to say this was less Lydon we mean it man but definitely more Confucius who stated music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without, and he’s right of course. I’ve been to a few of the excellent Frets Concerts and the warmth in the room is always there but last night’s experience took it to another level. The applause, the adoration, the love was there in spades, awash with a palpable intensity as we witnessed the first ever Tim Burgess solo acoustic show. 

But first up was the beguiling charm of Duglas T.Stewart. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard of six degrees of Kevin Bacon where a random actor is connected to Bacon in six links or less. Having seen on Twitter earlier today a BMX Bandits family tree (and knowing their wider influence), I’m pretty sure the same could be applied to the doyen of Scottish indie music.

Joined on stage by David Scott and Stuart Kidd, Duglas was at his irreverent best, entertaining the crowd between songs with humorous vignettes. The set was mainly culled from the My Chain album with Not Knowing You the first offering, a melancholic ode set in Glasgow (Byres Road) which set a standard which never dipped over the next 30 minutes or so. The Sailor Song was a highlight, Duglas playing the cazoo to good effect, offsetting the keyboard and guitar melodies perfectly.  

A cover of Rod McKuen’s Jean was performed, the track stripped back to an achingly beautiful vocal, emotive and deeply personal to the singer who explained his dad used to sing this to his mum Jean at the kitchen table. The closing track Foggy (from the Bee Stings album) brought the set to a conclusion, slightly more upbeat in delivery and laden with harmony. 

A quick break saw the return to the stage of David and Stuart to play a set of Pearlfishers tracks. There’s much to admire here, intricate harmonies and tunes which blend perfectly with clever lyrics. The Way My Father Talked About Vincent is a case in point and the enchanting Could Be A Street, Could Be A Saint was one of the highlights of the night. 

And so to the main act, Tim Burgess. As I mentioned earlier, this was the very first solo acoustic gig he’d performed and he made the point that it was quite different to strumming and singing in your room! 

One of the many virtues Tim has is he comes across as the anti-rockstar, no airs and graces, no dramas, just a genuine down to earth guy who enjoys the talent he’s blessed with and happy to share his music.

Now, it’s fair to say Tim was slightly nervous at the start, with only a guitar and microphone to support him so the obvious thing to do would be to play a familiar, well-known Charlatans track wouldn’t it? Of course not, let’s play a new song which hadn’t been heard by anyone else, a brave move! No title was given but it might be I Could Make You Happy/Best Friend and it definitely had a Velvets feel to it. Solo tracks Empathy For The Devil and Yours To Be went down well before Charlatans guitarist Mark Collins joined Tim on stage. 

Much of the beauty of an acoustic gig is hearing different interpretations of ‘full band’ tracks. Emilie was completely stripped back, the guitar setting the beat for Tim’s vocal to shine through and give the song a new focus. Stuart Kidd then returned to the stage to accompany the duo on what I can only describe as a sensational reworking of The Only One I Know, the atmosphere at this point was electric, crowd singing along and the reaction akin to that of a big arena where we are more used to see The Charlatans perform.

The set was peppered with both solo and band tracks, highlights from the latter included North Country Boy and a sublime Here Comes A Soul Saver with David Scott providing uplifting keys to offset Tim’s vocal. From the former, Doors Of Then had a rockabilly twang and White was delivered in empathic style. 

With all five musicians on stage, Duglas and Tim provided a co-vocal to the BMX Bandits track Serious Drugs before paying homage to Norman Blake with a take on the Teenage Fanclub’s Norman 3.

Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over was the ideal song to bring the concert to its conclusion. And that’s what I was doing on my drive home, thinking things over and agreeing with Confucius, music gives us pleasure and we can’t do without it. Thanks Tim, Duglas, Mark, David, Stuart. 

Details on upcoming Frets Concerts can be found at their website here

John Welsh

Feature image courtesy of @murrayeaston








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