Live Review: Nathan Bell @The Fallen Angels Club, The Rum Shack, Glasgow – 30th May 2024

Glasgow fans were privileged to see Nathan Bell’s only UK appearance this year when he took the opportunity to head there at the end of his latest European tour. He came to Glasgow he said, to help celebrate local Americana music promoters The Fallen Angels Club who have been providing Scotland’s central belt with quality shows for 20 years now. A mighty nice gesture.

Aside from several new songs, slated for release on his forthcoming album ‘Commoners’, much of the set was familiar to the crowd. Bell pretty much had them in his pocket from the moment he came onto the stage, alluding to the selection of John Prine songs we had been enjoying he announced, “I’m gonna fuck that up now and play some of my music,” typical of the wry humour he displayed throughout the night.

He opened with ‘Angola Prison’ which, stripped of its full band outing on his album ‘Red, White & American Blues (It Couldn’t Happen Here)’, was full of menace and doom with Bell’s guitar playing sounding as if it came from the Devil’s crossroads. Sticking with that album, ‘American Blues’ was a powerful call out, prefaced by Bell’s opinion on some of his fellow Americans (spoiler, he somewhat despairs) and it was followed by a prime example of his respect for Lightnin’ Hopkins on an excellent version of ‘Retread Cadillac’.

Before playing the first of the new songs from the forthcoming album Bell spoke about his recording technique, explaining that he was fond of “practising the songs until I knew them.” ‘Working In Tennessee’ was a satire on cosmopolitans who dress in work ware while ‘Third Shift Man’ was prefaced by a catalogue of the health issues experienced by those who were forced to work the midnight hours. Both bode well for the upcoming album. Meanwhile ‘King Of The North’, revised as a Glasgow version, went down a treat with the locals.

Throughout the night Bell was quite caustic regarding the political state of his homeland (and this on the night that Trump became a felon, although that news came too late to be mentioned). To great applause he also mentioned our current Prime Minister at one point, but his pointed comments were always in service to the songs which celebrate the working man, the power of unions and, ultimately, the power of love, family and friends. With his wife in attendance he played what he described as “perhaps the only love song I’ve written” in the shape of ‘I Would Be A Blackbird’ and later on in the set, Leslie, his wife, joined him on stage to sing the glorious ‘Jesus Of Gary, Indiana’.

An encore beckoned of course but, maybe in part to Bell just having a blast and the venue being pleasantly devoid of a curfew, we were treated to several songs. First off was a blues number with Bell hailing the guitar virtuosity of Brownie McGhee before he then demonstrated his own finger picking skills on a short pastiche of guitar instrumentals. If you wondered why Bell has been tagging #hottubshark on his latest social pages then all was explained here. If you weren’t here tonight you’ll have to wait for the next tour to have that explained.  A very moving rendition of ‘Lucky Man’ ended the night, a song which just about sums up Bell’s take on life.

About Paul Kerr 438 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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Daniel Dower

An astute and accurate review of a fantastic gig by the troubadour that is Nathan Bell. His story telling and awe inspiring guitar playing made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. In fact it was hard to tell who was deriving most pleasure – musician or audience? He was the most relaxed and confident I’ve ever seen him and the sound system helped him deliver a perfect performance. We were all ‘lucky men’ – and lucky ladies too!
What’s more he made a rare appearance afterwards to talk to the crowd which is something he normally avoids as he breaks down the set and prepares for the next gig on what is often his gruelling schedule. What a joy to have been there for the last night of the tour of this master musician.