mon 14/10/2019

Edwyn Collins, Concorde 2, Brighton review - enjoyable evening of tight guitar pop | reviews, news & interviews

Edwyn Collins, Concorde 2, Brighton review - enjoyable evening of tight guitar pop

Edwyn Collins, Concorde 2, Brighton review - enjoyable evening of tight guitar pop

The Orange Juice frontman stays mostly seated but delivers a rousing, dynamic gig

A wry, steady presence, full of vim

In March of this year Edwyn Collins released his ninth studio album, Badbea, his fourth since two life-altering cerebral haemorrhages derailed him in 2005. It’s a vivacious collection that runs the gamut of what guitar pop can be, from acoustic strumming to psychedelic riffing to lo-fi punkin’, all catchy as burrs. His set is peppered with it. By the time he reaches the encore, even the slow, elegiac title track, with its gloomy references to “a ruined monument to life and death”, holds the audience rapt.

Clad in a Fred Perry-style white shirt with red trim, Collins initially appears on stage supporting himself with a stick. He takes a seat and to his left a music stand holds his lyrics. Initially my eyes are drawn to the way he cradles his inert right arm as he sings, but as the evening progresses, Collins’ commitment to the music, to the night, to us, renders such studied observation irrelevant. And he hardly looks at the lyric stand.

He is surrounded by a great band, a clearly tight-knit musical support unit, who create rich sonic environs for him. Sometimes this backing is low key, as with the pared back blues-playing of guitarist and occasional Primal Screamer “Little” Barrie Cadogan on “It All Makes Sense to Me” and the sensitive acoustic accompaniment to lovely 2007 track “Home Again” by The Pretenders' Carwyn Ellis. Sometimes their sound is belligerent, as with the Ramones-ish “Outside” and the ballistic riff-stomp of “Tension Rising” with its Roxy-esque sax solo by Dexys member Sean Read.

It’s been observed before but it’s impossible to ignore, the way Collins' aphasia affects his spoken words – in his jokey interactions with band and audience he’s confident and relaxed but stilted – yet once he starts singing his voice takes flight, strong, unbeholden to the same limitations. It may be a trite thing to write but it’s a brave thing he’s doing here. Mostly, though, while that aspect is there, it's just another contributory factor to a set riven with liveliness, especially when he hits Orange Juice’s post-punk pop-funk classic “Rip It Up”.

Collins is the cult musician’s cult musician, in that his career with Orange Juice and Postcard Records is credited with being key to the invention of indie music at the dawn on the Eighties. As he sings the summery, even camp “I Guess I’m Just a Little Too Sensitive”, it reminds that when it appeared in 1984, it was the antithesis of what academics still referred to as “cock rock”. He dabbles in a plethora of such vintage fare, with an appearance for his Pete Shelley tribute “Blue Boy”, a tune that was in his set even before Orange Juice existed, and rousing set-closer “Don’t Shilly Shally”.

It crossed my mind prior to this gig that the stationary nature of the frontman might affect the energy of the evening. In fact, it doesn’t matter. For a few songs in the set Collins takes to his feet and has a boogie as he sings, but the truth is that whether he’s sat down or on his feet, his voice and his presence, combined with a very tasty band, adds up to something special.

Below: Watch the video for "I Guess We Were Young" by Edwyn Collins

Even his album's slow, elegiac title track, with its gloomy references to “a ruined monument to life and death”, holds the audience rapt


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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