If ever we needed good news from the US of A, it was surely in this past week, and what better medicine with which to banish the post-election blues than the warming bear hug of this troupe of southern soul brothers in all their double denim glory.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats ****
Barrowland was the ideal scene for a two-night celebration of rootsy soul from born again (in the musical sense) folk troubadour Nathaniel Rateliff, who has discovered a whole new expressive lane and netted a much wider audience in the company of his delightfully monikered backing band the Night Sweats. This estimable bunch are signed to the legendary Memphis label Stax, steeped in its soul traditions and partial to mixing in a spot of Sly & the Family Stone groove and Van Morrison gravel to their surefire recipe.
Key to their successful adoption of such a sensuous sound is that the musicians were so clearly invested as a collective in what they were playing and so infectious in their execution of, say, the low-slung seduction of Shake, which sealed the deal with sultry Hammond organ. Rateliff, meanwhile, is a nifty mover and an athletic singer, capable of covering a lot of ground in a short space of time without losing the soul of the song.
However, there was cause to pause the party around the halfway point and pay tribute to yet another giant of popular music who has passed this year. News of Leonard Cohen’s death broke earlier on the day of their first show, and Rateliff strapped his trusty acoustic guitar back on for a taste of how he used to do it on a respectful and healing cover of Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel before bringing the mood back up for the remainder of the show.
Closing the main set, their celebratory drinking song S.O.B. – custom-made for a Barrowland audience – was a real tonic, and its hearty “woh-oh” rallying refrain was taken up by the crowd in a bid to get the band back onstage. When they did return, they knocked out a respectable cover of The Shape I’m In by The Band. Like much of what had gone before, their rendition dripped pure rhythm’n’blues which Rateliff duly daubed away with his handkerchief.