Music review: Pathway to Paris, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Programmed to coincide with COP26, this show hosted by campaign group Pathway to Paris featured Patti Smith, King Creosote, Belle & Sebastian and many more. Review by Fiona Shepherd

Patti Smith PIC: Alain Jocard / AFP / Getty Images
Patti Smith PIC: Alain Jocard / AFP / Getty Images

Pathway to Paris, Theatre Royal, Glasgow ****

On the eve of COP26, the Theatre Royal hosted the latest thoughtful creative agitation from Pathway to Paris, a non-profit organisation bringing artists, poets and musicians into the climate movement.

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Founders Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, on piano and cello respectively, have some influential connections, not least veteran climate campaigner Bill McKibben who MCed much of the evening, and Smith’s mother – High Priestess of Punk, Patti Smith.

A poster for the Pathway to Paris event. Artwork by Cesar St. Martin

But we also heard directly from those at the sharp end – from Mary Kinyua, the Chair of Fairtrade Africa, Ugandan youth activist Vanessa Nakate and Mohamed Nasheed, the former President of the Maldives, who survived an assassination attempt earlier this year. All speak with dignity, purpose and urgency about their particular frontlines, so much so that the actions the audience were encouraged to take part in – shining Little Sun lights, writing a letter to JPMorgan Chase exec Jamie Dimon – felt rather meagre in comparison.

New York’s Soundwalk Collective underlaid two specially commissioned pieces with their field recordings and ambient soundscapes. Tibetan composer Tenzin Choegyal led Khandroma on singing bowl, Himalayan flute and soulful lamentation. From the roof of the world, they dived to the ocean floor as Patti Smith intoned the slow, sombre Cry of the Lost, unfolding like a real-life fable of marine apocalypse, later complemented by her own portentous My Blakean Year.

Fife’s finest, Kenny Anderson aka King Creosote, joined this international line-up to perform a couple of his distinctive aching lullabies. Smith, a professed fan, swapped lyrical notes and joined him for the melancholy uplift of Pauper’s Dough and the pair were augmented by the rest of the climate cast plus members of Belle & Sebastian, The Pastels and Future Pilot AKA for a suitably stirring finale of Smith’s autonomous anthem People Have the Power, an evergreen affirmation needed now more than ever.

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