erasing clouds

Live Review: Isobel Campbell/Bill Wells/Roddy Hart @ King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, 17th December 2003

by anna battista

The venue is still half empty when Roddy Hart introduces himself and starts his set. His music is average pop-rock, with good intuitions on tracks such as "Flames" and "This Boy Has Been Broken". The only redundant moment of his set happens when he confesses us that Isobel Campbell taught him to play "Imagine" on the piano when they were younger and attended the same school. After Hart himself recognises the futility of this anecdote, he concludes his set with "This Is Your Freedom" and, a few minutes after, Bill Wells and his quartet come on stage. Wells rewards us with thirty minutes of pure jazz and generally beautiful instrumental music. Wells & Co. sound at their best when they improvise long tracks with Sun Ra-like nuances.

Isobel Campbell opens the gig with "There Was Magic, Then…" the heart-breaking last track on the second Gentle Waves' album, Swansong For You. Her backing band is a combo of her own musicians, Bill Wells' band and Bill Wells himself on the guitar and keyboards. "Why Does My Head Hurt So?", the sambatastic "Johnny Come Home" and the Françoise Hardy-like tones of "Monologue For An Old True Love", all tracks from the new album Amorino, follow. In between songs Isobel sticks her tongue out at Bill Wells, childishly giggles at her musicians, and alternates her singing and waving her arms at her sides in a robotic dance routine, to playing her cello, and other assorted instruments such as a horn and drumsticks, the latter two essential gadgets for the crazy and relentless track "The Cat's Pyjamas".

Though Isobel Campbell's records have often been branded as generally tiring and nerve racking because of her extremely ethereal and childish voice, which sorts of comes back tonight in the twee cover of the "White Horses" theme, when she plays live and she is accompanied by other professional musicians, she sounds more like a proper chanteuse. Very honourable mention tonight goes to the instrumental version of "October's Sky Song", that sounds like Alice Coltrane meets Pharoah Saunders only with some healthy fingersnapping on it, and the final track, "Bedazzled", from the Peter Cook and Dudley Moore film, sung featuring The Vaselines' and Eugenius' Eugene Kelly. A simply bedazzling gig.

Issue 19, January 2004

this month's issue
about erasing clouds

Copyright (c) 2005 erasing clouds

Pics by Anna Battista