Gig review: Edwyn Collins

Edwyn Collins celebrates being alive in his own lyrical way. Picture: Contributed
Edwyn Collins celebrates being alive in his own lyrical way. Picture: Contributed
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AT THE risk of succumbing to hyperbole, this triumphant performance from Scottish indie monarch Edwyn Collins was a joyous, life-affirming affair. Never underestimate the healing power of music.

Edwyn Collins - Oran Mor, Glasgow

*****

The facts are as follows: in 2005, at the age of 45, Collins suffered two major cerebral haemorrhages. In the difficult years that followed, he gradually learned to speak and play music again. Despite having lost the ability to read and write, his uncanny knack for a seductive tune never deserted him.

As evinced by last year’s Understated album, Collins’ illness imbued his music with a thrilled and thrilling love of life. Nowhere is this better stated than in Forsooth, an affectionate Velvet Underground homage in which, over two gently triumphant, rising chords, he sings lines such as, “I’m so happy to be alive… I feel alive and I feel reborn.”

This celebratory anthem, performed in the style of a band who mean so much to him, was just one of many ecstatic highlights.

Though he remained seated throughout – he still suffers from weakness on his right-hand side – a brace of Orange Juice tunes brought him to his feet. Cheerily poking Oran Mor’s basement ceiling with his cane, he sang the likes of Blue Boy and Rip it Up with all the crooning vigour of his younger self. His speech is still slow, yet his vocals remain intact. It’s remarkable.

Hyperbole be damned, this was no mere concert. It was a glorious two-fingered salute to mortality.

Seen on 15.06.14