On Sunday night I was in the audience for Bonnie Raitt’s show at the Glasgow Concert Hall. It was, as you may expect, a flawless masterclass in singing, songwriting and exceptional playing. There was economy in every lick, riff, solo, intro and in the huge repertoire of Bonnie’s very own end-cues. There’s the guitar-neck-drop, the arm pull, the nod, and most entertaining of all, the hip swivel to bring any particular song to a fine conclusion.
Before the show I bumped into a good musician pal who told me of a recent gig to which he took his son. Setting up the night he told his lad that this (it was Hothouse Flowers) was a real band who play together and if he watched and listened there was probably a lot to learn about the art of performance. He was kind enough to mention my own band in the same context and made the interesting point that so many acts these days involve a singer with a group of session players behind them. This, he astutely observed, meant that there was rarely that chance to grow together and develop the magic that comes with shared live experience. He has a point.
One of the odd aspects of C2C is the fact that nearly all the acts play with ‘track.’ For people who don’t know the term, this means that bands are playing along to pre-recorded additional parts sent to the sound desk to be mixed in with the live sound. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, however it does mean that live versions of songs don’t essentially vary much from the recorded ones. It’s always a false temptation (in my experience) to get overburdened by trying to reproduce the recorded experience over faithfully. In times past it led my own band down some difficult terrain and almost always resorted in us agreeing just to play the dam thing. Which brings me back to Bonnie. How wonderful it was to see a band being faithful to the original arrangement, but being astute enough to re create it every night on the road. It doesn’t get much better.
Bonnie also spoke movingly about her great friend, John Prine. She can, of course, lay claim to recording one of the best JP covers of all time. You will probably know what that is, but check this week’s AC where you can hear it in full. Also on the show this week is a live band playing in Studio One without the aid of any additional tracks. Caitlin Rose, who has had a ten year break from our show is back with her touring group for an AC session. Recorded some weeks back when Caitlin was on tour it celebrates her new album, Cazimi, (you can tune in to find out more on that word) plus a very cool cover. There is also a conversation with Caitlin I recorded on the day.
If that’s not enough, expect new things from Allison Russell, Lukas Nelson & Lainey Wilson and an introduction to a fabulous new single from Corey Kent. This all happens in two hours of radio on BBC Radio Scotland from five past eight this Tuesday evening or on BBC Sounds in whichever country or timezone you should choose to listen. Do join me if you can.