A crowded pub in Glasgow on a swelteringly hot Saturday night proved to be no challenge to Australia’s Lachlan Bryan who, with a four piece version of The Wildes behind him, performed a set of songs which just about defined “Americana,” visiting corners of country, folk, soul and blues and doing so brilliantly. Bryan was accompanied by regular bassist Shaun Ryan and singer Imogen Clark along with Andrew Wrigglesworth on electric guitar and Laura Coates who also sang, the latter pair having played the support slot as The Weeping Willows.
They immediately charged into the murder ballad ‘309’ with Wrigglesworth’s Stratocaster churning away, the song sounding as if it had been plucked from a Dylan & The Band concert back in ’66. It was a thrilling opener and signalled that the band were in no way enervated by the hot climate. Wrigglesworth again proved to be a bit of an ace as the band played ‘The Ballad of a Young Married Man’, another song which inhabits a dark hinterland and which saw the band really meshing on a splendidly drawn out ending. Dylan again sprang to mind on the talking blues vibe of ‘Black Coffee’ especially as they tossed in a couple of verses of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ towards the end while Bryan’s spell in New Orleans informed the excellent tale of a local sorceress on ‘Dugdemona’ and there was some fine gospel like singing on ‘Dragging My Chain’.
These turbo charged songs had really grabbed the audience’s attention but even as Bryan dipped into his country songbook he was in command of the situation. ‘Afraid of the Light’ was given a fine soulful touch and when it came time for him and Ms. Clark to sing the wonderful duet ‘The Basics of Love’ (a song from the new album ‘Some Girls (Quite) Like Country Music’ which is an affectionate nod to Waylon’s Luckenbach Texas) he announced that this was a quiet song before asking the audience to “shut the fuck up,” which they did. The song flowed wonderfully in the grand tradition of country duets and highlighted the fact that Bryan is one of the best songwriters out there today, a fact amplified by his performance tonight of ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Middle Aged Man‘. Altogether the ensemble were excellent as they moved from delicate country ballads to chicken scratch guitar workouts and soulful grooves. They’re touring all week ending up with an appearance at Maverick Festival so if they are nearby you really should catch them.
The Weeping Willows opened the show with Wrigglesworth on acoustic guitar and swapping vocals with Coates. They struggled at first with the boisterous crowd (this was a free entry show unfortunately) but their fine harmonies and some nimble guitar picking along with a grand selection of their own songs and a few select covers did win folk over. They inhabit territory familiar to fans of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings and also Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison and on their albums they can delve into some dark corners but tonight the songs were in the main up tempo. ‘River of Gold’ was a rippling number with the sound of Appalachia running through it while ‘The Pale Rider’ was a fine opportunity to show off their excellent harmonising on a somewhat spooky number although again the bar noises offstage were somewhat distracting. They came through however with an excellent slam dunk on their closing numbers, Blind Lemon Jefferson’s ‘One Kind Favour’ (AKA ‘See That My Grave is Kept Clean’) with the guitar cutting like a switchblade and then a fine cover of The Blasters’ ‘Border Radio’ which certainly enamoured the duo to this reviewer’s heart. Not the best place to catch this pair perhaps but on this showing alongside their performance with The Wildes, they certainly are a name to watch out for.