“I wish we could stay about two weeks,” rumbled Wreckless Eric Goulden in the gravelly cockney tone so perfected by old punks, “even with the weather, cos I prefer it up ‘ere.”
Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby
Playing alongside his wife, the American singer-songwriter Amy Rigby, Eric’s copious between-song banter was like being regaled with the story of a friend’s very funny family holiday. At one point the pair recalled their time living in France, waiting for Eric’s visa to come through so they could set up home in America, and how he would “even move to Scotland” if it was rejected.
The effect – alongside an audience that was large enough to create an atmosphere but small enough to be intimate – was to build a truly personable show, which worked largely to positive effect. Nobody minded, for example, that Rigby messed up the clattering count-out finale to her own Dancing With Joey Ramone and dissolved into a fit of giggles, while there was added poignancy and tenderness to frayed versions of John Denver’s Leaving On a Jet Plane and I Still Miss Someone (Blue Eyes), a song most identifiable with Johnny Cash and Stevie Nicks.
In this personal context, Eric’s ever-fresh (I’d Go the) Whole Wide World was lent a new emphasis, with her loud acoustic guitar and his thumping bass filling the room in the absence of a full band. Before the second of two planned encores was up, the audience might have considered the irony of an onstage sign bearing the title of their new album A Working Museum and an arrow pointing right at the pair – their sound may be classic, but their energy and passion blows the cobwebs away.