Gig review: Mike Heron & Trembling Bells, Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow

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IT’S no secret that Glasgow’s Trembling Bells are fans of the Incredible String Band – their strong psych-folk leanings, not to mention singer Lavinia Blackwall’s flower power garb, testify to the influence of their 1960s forebears, and if ever there was a cross-generational match to be made, this would be the obvious one.

Mike Heron & Trembling Bells

Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow


But what does ISB founder Mike Heron get out of the transaction? An agreeably dynamic and muscular interpretation of music which can easily tend to the twee and whimsical, plus the exquisite fluency of Blackwell’s English rose vocals.

This likely pairing first toured in 2011. Heron was sufficiently impressed to borrow their guitarist Mike Hastings for his own band, but the entire group provided a tight backbone, which was at times so spot-on that it clashed with the wandering fluidity of Heron’s approach.

There was great affection among the players, including Heron’s daughter Georgia Seddon, for the hippie ephemera of gongs, bells, whistles and the harpsichord setting on the synthesizer, and when this raggle-taggle mini-orchestra eventually hit their collective mark on Cousin Caterpillar and Log Cabin Home In The Sky, there was celebration in the room.

Hapton Crags is, presumably, the premier murder balladeer in South Lanarkshire. Not for him the sinister rumblings of your Nick Caves and Bonnie Prince Billys; instead, his tales of dark misadventure were delivered with a steady finger-picking hand and an understated storytelling style which was wanting in drama. They don’t like to make a fuss down in those parts.