This fine pair, Carll, a sardonic Texan and Lund, rangy and Canadian, have been buddies for some time, co-writing songs, hanging out, even appearing in each other’s videos. Tonight, and for one night only here at Celtic Connections while on their current tours, they were teamed up to give us a Bluebird Cafe styled “in the round” set (if you can do that with just two artists, maybe a musical ping pong would be more appropriate).
Obviously comfortable and happy to be in each other’s company the pair freewheeled through two sets which showcased some of their better known songs with humour well to the fore. Sparking off of each other there was some fine verbal jousting and jokey one-upmanship throughout the night, Lund’s predilection for songs about animal husbandry noted by Carll who mentioned that he had some animal songs as well before launching into Wild As A Turkey. This light hearted (and, it must be said, very funny) banter culminated in a short section where Lund described auditioning for Carll and John Evans’ super testosteroned side band, The Ego Brothers whose songs include The Luckiest Mirror In The World and I Wonder What All The Ugly People Are Doing Tonight. He passed the audition by the way and to prove it they sang There Ain’t Enough Of Me To Go Around.
Amidst the frivolity and fun both artists offered up songs that were both more serious and to the point. Lund’s Getting Down On The Mountain, an eco disaster song is as pertinent today as it was when it was written while Carll’s Elvis & Jesus was a fine lament for veterans who never came back. Carll’s Beaumont and For The Sake Of The Song along with Lund’s September reminded us that these guys are tremendous songwriters in their own right and, both of them seasoned artists, the songs were delivered powerfully.
On stage for almost two hours, sipping their whiskies, swapping tales and accompanying each other occasionally, the pair entertained the audience in royal fashion. Towards the end it was becoming raucous as they sang several songs guaranteed to get the crowd on board and join in on the singing. First off was their collaborative song, Bible On The Dash which had the crown whooping away while Rye Whiskey/Time To Switch To Whiskey, their closing song, was a huge singalong. There had to be an encore and of course it kicked off with Carll’s She Left Me For Jesus, a huge audience favourite with everyone joining in. Equally enjoyed was the boisterous rendition of Lund’s Five Dollar Bill, again an invite for the crowd to join in. All in all an enormously entertaining and informal night, two excellent songwriters getting off on their songs and their obvious camaraderie and carrying the audience with them. They then went off and did it again at Celtic Connections’ late night club but that’s another story.