... at The Twisted Wheel, Queen Street, Glasgow
Last Monday I went along to The Twisted Wheel (used to be The Rock Garden in Queen Street) to see Jim supporting Dean Owens and Kim Edgar. Many happy memories of nights out in The Rock Garden including Jim playing with his band Dexter Slim and the Pickups (in the 80s) and The Hemmingways (90s) so I was looking forward to the gig. I was also excited about seeing both Dean and Kim perform on the last night of their very successful tour in UK.
Some of our buddies were meant to be coming along but folk seem reluctant to go out on a rainy Monday night so every last one called off, which was a great pity as it was a brilliant, if very quiet, gig. However, a happy little troup of dedicated fans, enthusiastic soundman and bar staff had a great night and it's not often that I've seen so much talent on display to so few.
It didn't take Jim long to warm up the little crowd (well group really) and he got off to a good start with some of his tried and tested numbers - 'Tenderness'. 'Weather Girl' and 'Handle's Broken'. He then livened up the atmosphere with a few country numbers, including the very humourous 'Annemarie'. With such a pleasant and responsive audience he felt confident in testing out a new song 'You say every day is sunshine' and impressed me as he even remembered the words. He finished off with a bit of audience participation and got us joining in, the ever popular, 'Daddy's Car'. My new friends Trina and Ian, sitting at the next table, seemed to have no trouble picking up the chorus.
Next on was Kim, whom we had seen at the ABC with The Burns Unit during Celtic Connections. She really is a very classy lassie - beautiful clear voice and great songs. You can hear every word she sings and the lyrics are well worth a listen. Her songs come from the heart and the one she started off with 'Fragile' about her baby niece was charming and full of emotion.
I also like the drama that she introduces into her music, making it just a bit different and it's lovely to hear her Scottish accent, particularly distinct in her beautiful song 'Heavy Skies'. (I'm no expert when it comes to producing songs but that sounds like a lovely arrangement to me.) There was a wee bit of a hush in the audience when she came to the end of that song.
'Scissors, Paper Stone' is another cracker - a smart play on the game - perfectly suited to the keyboard accompaniment and painting a rather scary scene. A very versatile and accomplished performer, Kim's harmonies also worked very well when she was joined by Dean.
I had never heard Dean at all and was really looking forward to his performance, especially after Trina had been raving about his voice. She was not wrong. He really is a pretty special performer and has a distinctive and pretty fabulous voice. Some pretty nifty guitar playing and excellent songs - that's a package.
I loved his song 'Man of Leith', dedicated to his Dad, you could listen to that a few times with no problem and much pleasure. I love the lyrics and some quirky and unexpected upbeat bits that add contrast. 'Raining in Glasgow' is another brilliant song; it hooks you in right from the start:
'In the city by the Clyde, where the people like to party, the rain and street collide somewhere across the rooftops
....tonight I wouldn't mind getting wet. I could be at the Barrowland watching Elvis Costello'
I love that.
You've got to agree with Irvine Welsh who expresses the opinion: "The songs resonated with the beauty and power that only a truly committed writer and performer can bring to the table."
Our favourite reviewer, David Kushar of Spiral Earth.co.uk would have loved this gig. He became a fan of Jim's at the Colonsay Folk Festival 2008, praising his 'laconic folk blues" and also wrote a great review of his debut cd On These Dark Nights:
"Jim Byrne's maiden voyage on the good ship solo, is heading into favourable waters without a hint of bad weather up ahead ".
Seems that David is also a big fan of Dean and Kim, according to his review of their performance at The Chapel Arts Centre in Bath: he says of Kim:
"...we see the vulnerability and elegance of this solo performer, her prowess as a musician, and the reason she is winning fans. "
David also has much praise for Dean - and appreciates the 'yearn' in his music, which: "hasn't worn thin after numerous spins on the Spiral jukebox".The gig was an an absolute treat. I felt a wee bit sorry for Kim and Dean as they deserved a great big party to mark the end of a very successful tour but it was indeed 'Raining in Glasgow' last Monday. If it's any consolation - the wee audience they played to were enraptured.
myspace dean ownes Pat Byrne, April, 2009.