Music review: Loudon Wainwright III, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Loudon Wainwright’s wry comic timing is as impeccable as ever, but he also knows when to swap the gags for sincerity, writes Fiona Shepherd

Loudon Wainwright III, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****

Loudon Wainwright has been writing about his demise since around 1975 – Unrequited to the Nth Degree was one of several amusingly bitter / bitterly amusing misanthropic moans scattered through his 90-minute set.

But now the droll troubadour is 76, in the land of forgotten passwords and planning memorials (his own), with a new album, Lifetime Achievement, which ramps up the rhetoric as he hurtles towards the twilight of his years, petitioning for extra time on Double Lifetime. Unlike, say, Johnny Cash, this elder statesman is definitely not at peace with his time of life – but when was he ever?

Loudon Wainwright III PIC: Shervin LainezLoudon Wainwright III PIC: Shervin Lainez
Loudon Wainwright III PIC: Shervin Lainez
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Wainwright’s comic chagrin was the audience’s guilty pleasure. Another new song Fam Vac elicited guffaws of recognition as it became apparent that this was a paean to a vacation from the family, a solipsistic companion piece to One Man Guy. Wainwright really was a grumpy young man – hallelujah for the outlet of unfiltered song lyrics or who knows where he would be by now.

There was still new ground to furrow – Wainwright now has age appropriate T-shirts on his merchandise stall – as much as old ground to rake over, egged on by the crowd who obliged when prompted with a barrage of requests. With 26 albums to choose from, that was a lot of song titles flying about the auditorium, some of which Wainwright caught and some of which he could remember how to play, from the roadkill rock of Dead Skunk to I’m Alright, his affectionate satire on the woke-up-this-morning blues.

His wry comic timing was as impeccable as ever but he dropped the drollery for Your Mother And I, a classical confessional to his kids, and injected soul and humanity into the gently witty Missing You which paired well with a cover of Hermless by Michael Marra, an old mucker with whom he shares a gift for observational poetry.

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