Gig review: Jack Bruce & Lau - Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

“YOU have no band for years and then suddenly three come along at once,” joked Jack Bruce from behind his piano.

The Bishopbriggs-born sometime Cream bassist seemed barely able to keep track of the procession of musicians around him, including three fiddle-playing representatives of Mr McFall’s Chamber, percussionist Jim Sutherland, Bruce’s nephew Nico on bass and celebrated folk trio Lau.

Despite the latter’s joint billing, this was very much a celebration of Bruce. The set’s earliest songs featured just his sad, jazz-club piano playing, the string trio and a voice as rumpled and characterful as his creased brown suit, while the esoteric lyrics of The Weird of Hermiston and Folk Song marked them out as relatives of the 1970s folk scene. As the show progressed more musicians emerged, through Child Song and Milonga, a quite striking collision of Gershwinesque melodies and Brechtian lyrical drama.

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Then Bruce strapped on his bass, “my other piano”, and treated us to a rugged folk version of Cream’s classic Sunshine of Your Love, a reading which went so well that even Lau’s Kris Drever felt compelled to offer his band’s thanks for being involved.

It was an eye-opening set in terms of Bruce’s ability as a musician, composer and interpreter, so much so that he could offer mournful Burns Night readings of Ca’ the Yowes to the Knowes and Aye Waukin, O alongside the dense blues pulse of We’re Going Wrong and the detatched spite of Politician, and coax an obvious linear connection between both styles.

Rating: ****