Live Review: Dean Owens & The Sinners, Glad Café, Glasgow – 18th December 2023

It’s somewhat fitting that the last gig this reviewer saw in 2023 was by Dean Owens who, a few days later, was pronounced the winner of Best UK Americana act in our latest annual Readers Poll. Crowning another busy year (with two new albums under his belt – El Tiradito and Pictures), Owens had come to Glasgow for the second of a trio of Scottish shows to close the year, a tradition of his with all three shows sold out in advance.

With no support act, Owens and his Sinners entertained us for nigh on two hours ranging from his recent Tucson influenced border songs to some older nuggets and a couple from his latest album, released just days before. Opening with the slow sway of ‘Companara‘ which sashayed into the arid tones of ‘Arizona’ (both from ‘Sinner’s Shrine’) it was clear that The Sinners had the Tucson vibe down to a T with both songs sultry and ominous. As Owens said before launching into ‘The Hopeless Ghosts’, “We like to start off with some melancholy before we descend into sheer misery.”

And while there was misery to follow, there was also some jollity, much of that provided by Owens’ patter as he explained some of his songs’ derivations – ‘Staring At The Lid’ (from the latest album) inspired by a remark of his father backstage at a Mavericks’ gig and ‘Great Song’, simply following a conversation he had with songwriter Ben Glover as to how to write a great song (which Owens then proceeded to do). Numbers such as ‘The Night Johnny Cash Played San Quentin’ and the exuberant ‘Land Of the Humming Bird’ were full of a joy which overflowed from the stage to the increasingly engaged crowd.

Owens unveiled a song from his forthcoming album, recorded in Italy with Antonio Gramantieri which bode well for the venture and treated us to a master class in whistling as he performed ‘The Rain That Never Lands’, a tune from his soundtrack to an imaginary Western which comprises the second disc of ‘El Tiradito’. Here we were in full Morricone mode with Owens asking the sound engineer to turn up the echo for some “Grand Canyon sounds.” The sound engineer and Owens nailed it.

There was space for old favourites such as ‘The Man From Leith’ and the ever popular ‘Raining In Glasgow’ while his award winning song, ‘Southern Wind’ was given a powerful rendition with The Sinners capturing quite perfectly the swampiness of the song. Owens dispensed with encores, the band having played all night but there was time enough for them to finish with the rousing ‘The Last Song’, Owens’ tribute to his musical heroes and tonight dedicated to Shane McGowan. The audience were on their feet and singing along as Owens hymned those lost to us in a quite joyous manner.

About Paul Kerr 422 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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