Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Gig review: RM Hubbert (and friends) @ Stereo, Glasgow (27/01/12)

Alex Kapranos and Aidan Moffat join RM Hubbert on stage at Stereo

First & Last was RM Hubbert’s debut album, and I’m glad the title only rang half true. I hailed that album as my favourite of 2010 and barely a month in to 2012, Hubby’s latest is already a strong contender for my album of this year with his brand new release, Thirteen Lost & Found.

Tonight was always set to be a special show. Not only because it was the album launch but because it might just have been, well and truly, the first and last live performance of the album in (almost) its entirety. As the gig title suggests, Hubby wasn’t to be alone in this celebration of fine talent, of which was in abundance. Instead, he showcased a whole new side to his music accompanied by various musicians ranging from the wonderful Emma Pollock and Alasdair Roberts to the ever-impressive and utterly captivating Aidan Moffat and producer of the album, Alex Kapranos.

From the outset, RM Hubbert captivated the audience with his trademark fingerpicking as he was joined by Marion Kenny on the Chinese harp and Hanna Tuulikki who gave a beautifully ethereal vocal performance reminiscent of Joanna Newsom. Another highlight was the performance of Gus Am Bris An Latha (which I’ve just discovered translates from Gaelic as Until the day breaks and is a common inscription on gravestones) with John Ferguson on banjo wonderfully complimenting Hubby’s intricate guitar picking. Despite all the collaborations on the album, there was still room for a few solo efforts from the man himself with For Joe being a particular highlight as I, and much of the rest of the sold-out audience, looked on in awe, eyes transfixed on the hands of a master at work. The finale before the rousing encore was definitely a special moment that I’ll treasure for a long time to come. This time joining RM Hubbert was Aidan Moffat who grasped the microphone and told us all a story with a haunting melody in the only way he knows how, performed to the backing of Alex Kapranos on melodica and RM Hubbert’s melodic guitar picking. If the reception after that was enough to take the roof off and shock the punters in the upstairs cafe, the following before, during and after the encore was enough to shake the whole foundations of the building to the ground.

To some, dealing with such depressing topics and depicting it in what may be deemed as melancholic music may be utterly depressing. Like he said, “It usually takes until you’ve died before I dedicate a song to you”. But to me, creating such extraordinary and awe-inspiring music during a time of deep, dark depression not only signifies hope in a world full of misery but shows the remarkable strength that some people possess in the face of adversity. And to me, along with RM Hubbert’s music, that is truly phenomenal.

RM Hubbert's website can be found here and you can buy a copy of the album in various formats here.

This review was originally posted here on the 28th January.

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