“THAT sounds f****d doesn’t it?” grunted RM Hubbert, after abruptly halting a melancholic, delicately involved finger-picked opening instrumental to re-tune his guitar. “There goes the mysterious intro.”
RUTHERGLEN TOWN HALL, GLASGOW
Star rating: * * * *
And like that we were at the crux of what makes this 2013 Scottish Album of the Year Award winner’s gigs so special – sets as much about beautiful, meditative, emotional music, as they are hilariously crude language and black humour barely appropriate for recounting in a family newspaper.
This special East End Social show in Rutherglen brought the Mount Florida-raised guitarist and singer back to an old teenage stomping ground. “I spent a lot of time getting p****d behind this town hall,” Hubbert shared.
For all his ribald wisecracking, there’s a very serious purpose to his songwriting and performances – beset by chronic depression, he uses his craft and his concerts as a form of therapy. Hubbert can paint more beautifully panoramic musical vistas solo in one wordless classical guitar piece than some bands can across whole careers. Take the gorgeously detailed (if daftly titled) Buckstacy, or the haunting For Joe, written as an excuse to remember his late father-in-law onstage for a few minutes every show.
His chat grew increasingly rambling as the set wore on, a little longer than it ought to have, but a rare back-to-back performance of two moving numbers composed in memory of Hubbert’s late parents, and a version of Italian folk song Mo Ve’La Bella Mia Da La, sung by friend and frequent collaborator Emma Pollock, were the reward.
“Your patience and tolerance astounds me,” he thanked the audience, and all the jokes about death and jobbies we’d just experienced made Hubbert’s sudden sincerity resonate all the deeper.
Seen on 08.08.14