Music review: Glasgow Dreamers: The Songs of Ivor Cutler, Glad Café, Glasgow

These affectionate interpretations of the songs of Ivor Cutler spawned smiles all round, writes Fiona Shepherd

Glasgow Dreamers: The Songs of Ivor Cutler, Glad Café, Glasgow ****

There is never a bad time to showcase the work of the cherished poet, humourist and songwriter Ivor Cutler but his centenary year gives good cause to reconvene the team who conceived the Return to H'Yup concert at the 2020 edition of Celtic Connections for another joyful celebration of this most idiosyncratic of artists.

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Musicians and academics Matt Brennan, Raymond MacDonald and Malcolm Benzie were joined by keyboard player LT Leif, eagleowl bassist Clarissa Cheong and featured singers Emma Pollock and Rick Redbeard for this warm, intimate gathering not far from where Cutler once lived – though as Brennan pointed out, Cutler preferred to identify as a resident of the imaginary land of H’Yup.

Emma Pollock PIC: Stephanie GibsonEmma Pollock PIC: Stephanie Gibson
Emma Pollock PIC: Stephanie Gibson

This fantastical bucolic scene was set with a lonesome mustering cowbell, the sound of lapping waves and warm guitar.

Cutler’s voice beamed in from beyond the grave, his partner Phyllis King donated a recitation and Robert Wyatt was also heard in voiceover, but it was mainly down to the live ensemble to interpret Cutler’s unique worldview and songs – some, such as the occasionally reprised I Got No Common Sense, coming in at less than a minute, and many featuring animals and insects, such as the sultry torch song rendition of The Boo Boo Bird and lovely bossa nova version of I Believe In Bugs.

MacDonald wrestled with Cutler's own harmonium – discarded by the man himself and rescued by Celtic Connections honcho Donald Shaw – and added free jazz sax squawk to the funky intrigue of Who Tore Your Trousers James. Pickle Your Knees became a Velvet Underground-style drawl, Good Morning! How Are You? Shut Up! a rockout rumble, and Women of the World a jangly indie mantra with drum solo – all affectionate interpretations of Cutler’s beautiful cosmos which spawned smiles all round.

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