Music review: Withered Hand, Bowlers Bar, Glasgow

Withered Hand. Picture: Contributed
Withered Hand. Picture: Contributed
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IN A WEEK where, due to a celebrity tragedy, many have been talking and thinking about depression, it’s somehow appropriate to hear the vulnerable, emotional songs of Withered Hand.

Withered Hand

Bowlers Bar Glasgow


Not to assume anything about Edinburgh songwriter Dan Willson’s own mental state, of course, but the lyrics he writes are suffused with melancholy and a barely below-the-surface feeling of being cut off from the world.

In Horseshoe, the singer tries to convince himself that “nobody you love will ever die” but the tune rises and falls with his wavering conviction. In Black Tambourine, he declares “I don’t know who I am,” but insists that loneliness is not universal.

Maybe this is the legacy of his well-publicised upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness, or his relatively late start as a musician (aged 30), but behind the deceptively simple words and tunes, there’s clearly a depth of experience and an openness about life’s downs which shines through.

If that doesn’t sound much like a fun night out, this was actually a very light-hearted gig, held as the last in the Commonwealth Games-associated East End Social series in Bridgeton’s Bowlers Bar. After a crowd-pleasing singalong support slot from Justin Currie, Willson’s between-song wittering and recurring equipment problems proved an engaging if ramshackle stage presence.

On-going jokes about falling ill and his persistently bad holidays led into the raucous King Of Hollywood and to California, “about tripping on cough medicine by accident on one of these holidays”.
Seen on 14.08.14