I mentioned in yesterdays review how much I enjoy Perth's Southern Fried Festival. In fact when it came to leave my old job to work at Small City I even handed my notice in to coincide with the first day of the proceedings. So this is one of the first Saturdays in ages I haven't had to get up early and go and answer calls in a call centre, instead I'm sitting with breakfast and a cup of tea typing up the review for a couple of amazing gigs from last night. Pretty happy with my life choices thank you very much!
Tonight looked set to be a triple threat with country singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale, Jesus of Cool and king of twang guitarist and singer Doug Seeger playing with a full band.
First up to bat is Jim Lauderdale he takes to the Concert Hall stage in a pair of sequinned trousers that would have Gram Parsons grinning in approval. One of the things that's always appealed to me about authentic country music is storytelling and humour and it is here that Jim really excells. He gives us the background to many of the songs, for example, The King of Broken Hearts was written as a tribute to George Jones and the aforementioned Gram Parsons. Jim also has any easy rapport with the audience quipping that the recent Scottish "heatwave" has him "sweating like Nigel Farage at a Billy Bragg concert". That's a great line and I'm stealing it. Sorry Jim. He plays a host of material from his career but the standout for me is Honky Tonk Haze which has brought to mind Willie Nelson particularly the excellent vocal.
Next up was Nick Lowe. I was really looking forward to this. I'd discovered Nick's work the same way a lot of people probably do, through Elvis Costello's version of (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding and then as a bit of a movie buff I heard Mark Kermode pick Nicks album Jesus of Cool as his album of the week for what most have been a solid two year period! I finally relented and bought it and he was right it is one of the most awesome albums ever. The cover art alone is worth the price of admission!
As his solo spot kicks off with People Change I'm immediately impressed by how good his voice is. I don't know if it has got better over the years or it is something that i've taken for granted but man it is as smooth as honey! When we get a couple of songs in we are warned that he won't be able to do a wee backstory for every song as his songs are so short that it would take all night. However because his songs are so short it means that although he has had a long career you are still in with a pretty good chance of hearing your favourite which I did with 1983's catchy as hell ragin' eyes and 1979's Cruel to be Kind.
One of the benefits of a stripped back solo acoustic show is that it really allows the lyrics to breathe. Listening to relatively recent song I Trained Her to Love Me with it's misanthropic, misogynist narrator is like reading a really good short story. The lines "I'm only paying back womankind for all the grief I've got. I've got the latest believing forever I'll be true. I trained her to love me. Now excuse me I've got work to do" are both enthralling and deeply chilling.
After Nick plays his encore (yeah of course he played Peace, Love and Understanding) it's time to head round to the Salutation Hotel for some rocking country from Doug Seegers. I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with Seeger's work but that is definately going to change. There is a real breadth and depth to his songwriting and it isn't restrained by any one genre. We get an amazing Texas swing on Buddy Milleresque My Baby Lost Her Way Home, Gospel on Will You Take The Hands of Jesus and a more rocking vibe on I Knew Her Before The Crash. However it is when Doug and his amazing band switch gears into Rockabilly that the Salutations dance floor comes into play. Original song Road Rage and a cover of Shake, Rattle and Roll with a rabid drum solo have everyone up and dancing. Anyway I would love to write more about all of last nights amazing performances but it's Southern Fried and I've got more live music to go and review. See you tomorrow folks.
Find out more about the Southern Fried Festival here
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Colin reviews local Perthshire band Dead Fiction new music single in this Small City Review.
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