Gig review: James Yorkston & Karine Polwart, Paisley Spiegeltent

JAMES Yorkston relocated his monthly Tae Sup Wi’ A Fifer get-together from its Kirkcaldy base to Paisley’s annual Spree festival for one night only – but not, he informed us with characteristic quiet drollery, without provoking the displeasure of the regulars back home.

Karine Polwart. Picture: Contributed

James Yorkston & Karine Polwart

Paisley Spiegeltent

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Rating: ****

The far from fraught reality of supping with this Fifer was like drawing a seat up to a cultural campfire gathering, with words and music to warm your hands against from Yorkston and his guests, singer Karine Polwart and writer James Robertson.

Yorkston turned a trip to the beach with his kids into a soothing meditation on passing values down the generations, while Robertson led off with a mild but moving recollection from the long hot summer of 1976. A couple of his short but perfectly formed 365-word stories were laugh-out-loud funny with a gently satirical streak.

Unexpected running themes emerged across the trio’s individual contributions – elephants and, later, herons featured strongly, but also the more classically invoked topic of death.

Robertson personified the Grim Reaper as a solo holidaymaker, Yorkston’s requiem for his double bassist Dougie Paul resonated with a tender sadness, while Polwart’s cover of The Waterboys’ The Whole Of The Moon, delivered as “a minding”, connected afresh with Mike Scott’s lyrics.

Robertson then spoke for all three of them through an encore piece on the polished practise of storytelling – this engaging line-up told tales you leaned in to listen to.