Live Review: John Alexander Album Launch. The Glad Café, Glasgow – 8th March 2024

Although it’s been available on streaming platforms for a while, tonight was the official launch of John Alexander’s new album, ‘Face The Wind’, a disc which finds this Scottish artist knee deep in the big muddy and wallowing in terrain which Neil Young famously described as “the ditch.”

Alexander is a gruff voiced individual as well as being a talented guitarist and songwriter. The evidence is to be heard on ‘Face The Wind’ (which AUK reviewed here) and he has been celebrated for his sold out run of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe which he called “Dustbowl Blues with a Glasgow Kick” and it was the dustbowl element which prevailed in the opening segment of his show tonight.

Playing acoustic guitar and accompanied on vocals by Iona MacDonald (of Doghouse Roses fame) Alexander played several dusty songs opening with ‘Bullets In The Rain’ and then ‘Living To Stay Alive’, two songs which also open the album. Immediately we were in that dark hinterland which has captured so many excellent singer songwriters as echoes of Townes Van Zandt and John Prine were to be heard. The pair’s harmonies were chilling while Alexander’s picking was quite sublime. ‘Fault And Blame’ (named after a Glasgow pub Alexander used to play in) and ‘Long Way From Gone’ continued in a similar vein before Alexander strapped on an electric guitar to end this segment with a thrilling rendition of ‘Blood In The Water’, a portent of what was to come.

Joining Alexander for the full band section of the show was the other half of Doghouse Roses, Paul Tasker, on guitar along with blues veteran Rod Kennard on bass while the extensive drum kit was propelled by Martin Ross as MacDonald continued to add her voice to the melee. Theirs was a crunchy and sludgy take on the essential elements of bands like Crazy Horse along with a touch of guitar duelling which on one occasion (‘Don’t Start A War’) recalled the heady days of Television. On ‘Breathe’, Alexander was quite deadly in an apocalyptic fashion while also tossing out flurries of stinging guitar while ‘Last Man Standing’ shimmered with a glacial glare, Tasker on bottleneck guitar amping up the song’s otherworldly sensation.

‘White Noise’ found the band at their most Crazy Horse like with Alexander and Tasker duelling on guitars but they also found room to ape The Stones’ at their raunchiest on a furious makeover of ‘This Side Of The Glass’ while their final song (no encores, Alexander proclaimed, as it was just too bothersome) was a grand boogie driven delivery of Dylan’s ‘It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry’, the audience singing along. Overall, a great night, unlikely to be repeated soon but if Alexander ever hits the big-time (his songs are popular with U.S. TV shows) at least this reviewer can say “I was there.”

About Paul Kerr 424 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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