Gig review: King Creosote/Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire, Spree festival, Paisley

Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) delivered a triumph as part of the Spree Festival in Paisley. Picture: Graham Jepson
Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) delivered a triumph as part of the Spree Festival in Paisley. Picture: Graham Jepson
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Presented as part of Paisley’s annual Spree festival, this triumphant double-header from Fife’s King Creosote and Glasgow’s Roddy Hart took place in the wonderfully atmospheric environs of the town’s impressive abbey.

King Creosote/Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire - Paisley Abbey

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An utterly bewitching experience, it proved beyond all doubt that Scotland’s churches are curiously underused when it comes to secular celebrations. I doubt God would have minded welcoming these soulful exponents of Caledonian folk and rock into his parlour.

Performing from a tastefully lit altar, and backed by John Logan conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Hart and Creosote – alias Kenny Anderson, the industrious founder of Fife’s Fence Collective – were clearly in their element.

Supported by his band, The Lonesome Fire, Hart was moved to state that this was his proudest moment as a songwriter so far. Looking dapper in their three-piece suits, they soared through their repertoire of keening anthems, all of them comfortably at home against this epic backdrop.

While their influences couldn’t be more obvious – Springsteen, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, U2 at their most acceptable – the sincerity and warmth of Hart’s voice raises them beyond mere plagiarism. This is stadium rock with heart.

Admittedly, the RSNO were rather swamped by the band during much of their performance, although they came into their own during a gorgeous cover of Randy Newman’s Louisiana 1927.

Their presence was far more prominent during Anderson’s set, some of which was devoted to the intimate yet panoramic music from his current album, From Scotland with Love. The soundtrack to Virginia Heath’s gorgeously poetic documentary, commissioned as part of the Culture Festival accompanying the Commonwealth Games, it’s an affecting fusion of folk and chamber music – the sound of waves crashing off the Fife coastline, as seagulls swoop across Super 8 skies.

Anderson’s melancholy croon rang out around the abbey – the acoustics were spectacular – as the audience sat captivated in their pews. You could hear a pin drop during the solo acoustic such as Bubble, and anguished ballad Not One Bit Ashamed. In an ideal universe, the latter should be a much loved standard.

But the best was saved for last, when an inspired, brass-heavy arrangement of Hamish Imlach’s riotous Cod Liver Oil and Orange Juice brought the congregation to its feet for a deserved ovation. Like a drunken Salvation Army band lurching through a bordello, it was the perfect climax to a truly magical evening.

Seen on 17.10.14