Live Review: Dan Stuart, Fallen Angels Cub, Glad Café, Glasgow – 10th September 2023

It was a sold out (and probably around 95% male) audience who crowded into Glasgow’s Glad Café to welcome back our favourite curmudgeon, Dan Stuart, back to the fray. Stuart’s return to recording and live playing, back in 2012 after a lengthy absence, had seen him play these shores on several occasions until the pandemic stepped in and put paid to that. Now, here we had the post pandemic Stuart, sporting a new look (as if he ever would sport a new look, he’s just grown out his hair and sprouted some whiskers, rocking a Burl Ives vibe) immediately asking the audience as he settles onto stage, “Did you have a good pandemic? I did, the state of Arizona gave me two new hips.” He then commiserated with the crowd regarding the Scottish rugby team’s drubbing at the world cup earlier in the day while commenting on what he sees as the homoerotic nature of rugby. So far, and without a song played, typical Dan Stuart.

Billed as “An Evening of Words and Music with Dan Stuart,” this was the first time Stuart had appeared solo with no support and no accompanying players over here and it shone a spotlight on his literary endeavours which have accompanied his recent albums, all of them featuring his alter ego Marlowe Billings. Through Billings, in words and music, Stuart has documented and dramatised his travails, be it his formative years in the Tucson melting pot of post punk bands, existential exile in Mexico or a somewhat redemptive return to Tucson were he has become somewhat embroiled in the game of golf.

All of this was on show tonight as Stuart sang from his solo albums along with dips into his days in Green On Red while he also read several excerpts from his latest novel, ‘Marlowe’s Revenge’. A murder mystery set in Tucson and delivered in a hard boiled style, it’s quite unique in that golf plays almost as important a part as the whodunit expose. It’s telling that when introducing the first excerpt, Stuart notes that he’s released 12 records and three books and he’s much prouder of the latter than the former. The jury might be out on that but his animated readings tonight were quite a thrill as he brought the pages to life (unlike most authors he noted who didn’t have a clue as to how to perform, merely reading out loud) and it was cool to see his books getting nabbed up at the merch table after the show. Stuart introduced each of the readings by setting the scene and then basically acted out the parts quite superbly while explaining the more arcane elements of golf. Gripping and hugely entertaining, he drew us into Billings’ world. A dead body in a sand bunker and a dilemma, how to retrieve his golf ball without leaving clues.

As for the songs, the much anticipated revisits of old Green On Red numbers were maybe sparse but were well appreciated by the audience. ‘Gravity Talks’, ‘Time Ain’t Nothing’, ‘No Free Lunch’ and an excellent version of ‘Change’, including a Zevon like exclamation, “Hah!” before each chorus, were spotted throughout the two sets tonight but the emphasis was on his solo efforts and they far eclipsed that albatross which hangs around Stuart’s neck. There was a delicate delivery of ‘What A Day’ from his pre Billings solo days and songs such as ‘Elena’, snarled out tonight with Stuart , as in his readings, inhabiting the characters with various voices, and the haunting ‘The Day William Holden Died’ proved there’s much more to Stuart than his renegade years in his fabled band.

Aside from his book readings Stuart entertained throughout with various tales and shaggy dog stories, the most outrageous (and funniest) being the tale of taking his dog to a vet due to a problem with its pecker. However the highlight of the night was his raw delivery of ‘Gringo Go Home’ which, stripped of its album ornamentation, became a dry and dusty Pekinpah like tale of fear and loathing. Another highlight was Stuart’s rendition of Commander Cody’s ‘Down To Seeds And Stems Again’. “I own this song” he declared beforehand and, by golly, tonight he did.

About Paul Kerr 438 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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Great review. Wished I could be there.