Friday, 23 December 2011

Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – The Arches 20/12/11

It’s been quite a year for messrs Wells and Moffat with a critically acclaimed debut, followed by a jaunt around the UK and Europe. Tonight is the star on the top of the metaphorical tree, their Christmas revue.
I arrive fashionably late to catch the last 15 minutes of the first support act, RM Hubbert. He sits alone on a chair in the middle of the stage with just his acoustic guitar and has the crowd captivated. Songs blend so seamlessly into each other you’d be forgiven for thinking that he was just performing one marathon track. The small part of the set I did catch only left me disappointed that I wasn’t there to witness it all.
Next up were The National Jazz Trio Of Scotland. They say trio. I counted 5 - 6 if you included Bill Wells on piano. With it being a Christmas show, their set consisted of Christmas classics reworked in a slower, more solemn fashion. One by one a singer would approach the mic to perform a song, the pick of which was a hauntingly beautiful version of ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’ which even succeeded in making a Grinch like myself forget that it was a sodden Tuesday night in Glasgow.

With various pianos, mic stands and amps draped in fairy lights Aidan, Bill and co walk on stage with minimal fuss, cases of beer in hand. They begin with instrumental album opener ‘Tasogare’ before continuing straight into ‘Let’s Stop Here’ with Aidan playing away with a set of symbols and drums he has set up around his mic stand. As you would expect, Moffat is chatty throughout – “Good evening everybody. Are we all looking forward to the big event? …by that I mean Hogmanay, of course.”

Tonight’s set consists mainly of tracks from Everything’s Getting Older, one of the exceptions being a cover of Bananarama’s Cruel Summer. “Does anybody remember Bananarama?” Moffat asks… “Of course you do, nobody can really forget something like that, can you?” The result wouldn’t be out of place amongst some quieter Arab Strap tracks and fits in very well with the set as a whole. ‘Dinner Time’ is the only uncertain point of the set and seems a little out of place with its strictly spoken word vocals and very immediate piano backing. ‘A Short Song To The Moon’ (“okay, it’s time for the happy song. I mean it… THE happy song.”), ‘The Copper Top’ and ‘The Sadness in Your Life Will Slowly Fade’ all sound fantastic, the latter being the highlight of the set.

After playing the majority of Everything’s Getting Older the band leaves the stage to a rapturous level of applause and cheers from the local faithful within the caverns of the Arches, before returning for the encore. Moffat dips into his recent Christmas EP ‘Oh! What A Not So Silent Night Before Christmas’ to play ‘(Oh What) A Night Before Christmas’ which has the crowd cackling in laughter throughout and is a perfect reminder as to why Moffat is such a brilliant song writer. Not many people can work S&M, NEDs and an alcoholic, near death Santa into a cracking Christmas song. ‘And So We Must Rest’ is the last song of the night and with a final “Good night, good night, oh my children goodnight.” everyone is sent back into the wet Glasgow evening. Everything may be getting older but most things are better with age, right?
Words by Luke Phillips

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