If it wasn’t already apparent from his lovingly crafted music, Edwyn Collins is a stickler for the important little details in life. He wasted no time in diligently introducing his “tight and loose” band, including stellar guitarist Little Barrie Cadogan and longtime collaborators Carwyn Ellis and Andy Hackett.
There was something so delightful and celebratory about his concluding credit - “and me, Edwyn Collins!” - which captured the sense of exultation in witnessing a Collins show in his former West End stomping ground of the city where his music has had such an enduring and transformative influence.
Few in the audience will have been unaware of the importance of his former group Orange Juice to the bands which followed nor of how close we came to losing this brilliant musician to a serious stroke in 2005. But this show was about sheer enjoyment of the music in the here and now – and no one appeared more gleeful than Collins himself, whose rapport with his band has never seemed more caring nor playful.
The set was rich in treats old and new - with Collins meticulously placing each song in chronological context, counting dates off on his fingers to reach 1984, the year of the exquisite, snake-hipped What Presence?! and glorious pop funk of I Guess I’m Just A Little Too Sensitive.
In a Nutshell was a lovely connoisseur’s selection, a luminous ballad in the Velvet Underground crooner tradition. Collins was infectious in his appreciation of his guitarists’ abilities – Cadogan also tore it up on A Girl Like You, accompanied by Collins on the walking stick handjive - but he also not averse to playing the proud/embarrassing dad during son William’s guest vocal appearance on In Your Eyes and the droll drill sergeant with his Dad’s Army “don’t panic” commands.
It All Makes Sense To Me was emblematic of the positivity he is tapping in to on current album Badbea, while I Guess We Were Young, graced with soaring mariachi trumpet, was pithily summed up as “nostalgic, fond memories, a load of shit”.
During the encore, he sparred with band and fans as to whether or not he is “a hopeless cripple”. There was only one person in the room who insisted on that description - everyone else was too transported to find any imperfection in this set with its multiple highlights, from the ineffably lean and funky Rip It Up via the uplifting Don’t Shilly Shally and beautiful, burnished ballad Home Againto Orange Juice’s first single Falling and Laughing, sounding as fresh as a daisy 40 years on. Fiona Shepherd