I got the opportunity to see Boo Hewerdine perform at The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow last week (3 October, 2008), when he was performing alongside, Heidi Talbot, Kris Drever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble. Eddi Reader also joined the talented group of musicians on the stage for a couple of numbers. It was a superb concert and I liked the approach, with different artists taking the lead at various points. This made the show more interesting and entertaining and the changing roles and styles served to showcase their wide-ranging musical talents. It was also very uplifting to observe the mutual regard that the artists clearly hold for each other.
I had arranged to meet up with Boo for a chat prior to the show but that proved pretty diffcult to organise as he plays a key role in the show and as we were to discover, is rarely off the stage. Thus, he was involved in a lengthy rehearsal and by the time he was finished all we could manage was a brief chat at the stage door to arrange another appointment before the show began.
Although Boo could be described as the quiet man on the stage, his presence has considerable impact and he makes a striking contribution with his guitar playing, backing vocals and singing a couple of his own songs (would have been great to hear more). He has an amazing powerful and true voice and I loved his rendition of the beautiful 'White Lilies', which I had been listening to a lot on his myspace.
However, what can be more wonderful for a songwriter than to have his compositions sung by others - surely the greatest of compliments that can be paid - and quite a few of Boo's songs were included in the show. Kris Drever, a natural born singer, did a great job of 'Harvest Gypsies' and paid tribute to the composer of the song. Then when Eddi Reader was invited onto the stage she performed another Hewerdine number, 'Everything'. I think most of the audience would agree that apart from the fine performances, the quality of the songs chosen played a big part in the success of this concert.
Eventually, I managed to meet Boo for a coffee and blether at Heart Buchanan on Byres Road on the Sunday morning following Friday's concert. Boo's suggestion - as he knows Glasgow West End pretty well. Of course, he has a particular link to the West End through his musical collaboration with Eddi Reader, who lives in this neck of the woods. He and Eddi have been working together for a long time, after a meeting he describes as 'most fortuitous'. No doubt she feels the same way as he has written no end of great songs for her and penned her hit 'Patience of Angels'.
His song-writing skills are much in demand by many artists - something that he says helps keep his nose to the grindstone. 'When you're asked to write a song for someone then that makes you work at it'. Little wonder that he has such an impressive list of compositions as many artists, apart from Eddi and Kris Drever, have recorded his musical creations. This includes: k.d. lang, who sang his 'Last Cigarette'. Paul Young recorded Boo's 'Hard Cargo' and Sia, 'So Bored'. His work has also been recorded by Mel C, Marti Pellow and seems like a million folk I've never even heard of boo hewerdine discography
What is particuarly interesting about Boo's songwriting is his ability to produce such a wide range of styles so well. When I chatted with him he refered to his openess to different styles and the kick he gets out of every new song that he creates: "You never get over that feeling".
His bio is extraordinary with songs written for so many artists also for film and television. He also finds time to get involved in producing albums and partipate in songwriting workshops as well as performing an endless series of gigs.
Despite his undoubted success, and the praise that has been showered upon him in recognition of his outstanding musical abilities, Boo Hewerdine is a modest man. He appears equally proud of the song 'Apple Tree' that he wrote with his daughter Holly as the work he has collaborated on with international stars.
His success as an independent songwriter was "a long time coming", although he's had some very exciting times along the way - including playing with his band The Bible, which he formed in the 80's. Boo explained that he first decided on his career path as a seven year old, when he voiced the notion to his cousin that "he wanted to write songs'. He's certainly made a very good job of it and is so fresh and enthusiastic about his current ventures - you could easily believe that he just picked up his pen and guitar a day or so ago.
Pat Byrne, October, 2008.