Gig review: Rick Redbeard, Electric Circus, Edinburgh

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“Dark are the eyes that look out from my home / I was chasing the days when the years had already gone,” mourned Rick Anthony, alone on the stage, before descending into a careworn whistle which told its own story of those lost times he’s mourning.

Rick Redbeard

Electric Circus, Edinburgh

****

Already we’ve travelled a distance from the other band Anthony (or Redbeard, for he has a beard and it’s of a rusty hue) performs in, much-acclaimed Glasgow Krautrock revivalists the Phantom Band.

Playing his first show since the release of his debut Rick Redbeard album No Selfish Heart – as with the Phantoms, also on esteemed indie Chemikal Underground – Anthony revealed his solo set to be an understated feast of bittersweet singer-songwriting, often so quiet that it didn’t find itself impervious to a rattled glass behind the bar or the violent swing of an exit door. Rather than being a true original, however, Anthony is a strong and intuitive interpreter of styles and voices. The musical dots were there to be joined.

Once or twice an echo of Leonard Cohen’s misty crackle was heard in his voice, while the upbeat Now We’re Dancing was a King Creosote-style folk shanty with a distinct transatlantic twang to the words. Folk standard Kelvin Grove possessed the appropriate trembling, Scots-accented roots tone, and Any Way I Can evoked James Taylor (admittedly singing the unlikely line “drop the knife and come back to bed”) and occasional vocal contributions from Anthony’s sister Jo offered a delicate counterpoint to his mature and considered style.