Hipsway, Barrowland, Glasgow ***
In recent days, there has been a blizzard of big festival announcements for next summer. Meanwhile, the modest, good-spirited Ceilidhfest is doing its bit to keep Glaswegians warm as winter starts to take hold, with concerts by Phil Cunningham & Aly Bain and Dougie MacLean still to come before the end of November.
The biggest event in their month of traditional music was headlined by Hipsway – not traditional in the traditional sense but as strong an example as any of the boomtime for Scottish pop music in the mid-to-late 80s. Frontman Grahame Skinner, guitarist Pim Jones and bassist Gary Houston reconvened in 2016 to mark the 30th anniversary of their eponymous debut album and have stayed together ever since, producing new album Smoke & Dreams in 2018.
The new expanded Hipsway line-up includes keyboards, percussion and Louise Murphy’s soulful vocals as a complement to Skinner’s undiminished baritone, while Jones continues to provide the très Chic guitars with a touch of gritty rock heroics in the mix. The slick funk soul recipe remains the same, whether delivering an old favourite such as Set This Day Apart or the seductive pop of more recent single, Saturday Night, dispatched with carefree confidence and a bonus burnished guitar solo.
New York Nights, New York Daze was a turbo-charged love letter to the glory days of international recording trips, but there were longueurs elsewhere in their generally laidback set before the closing brace of golden era hits, which kicked off with hit pop funk calling card The Honeythief.
The band milked the ecclesiastical atmosphere, as well as the recognition factor, for the moody opening of Ask the Lord. Broken Years contrasted prematurely aged lyrics with an evergreen sound, while unsung Scotpop gem Tinderand the mellow pop soul of Long White Car have stayed classy into middle age.
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