Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Davy Graham - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 27 October 2007

This gig was a strange experience. To give you the back story, Davy Graham has been a hero of mine since my big brother got a vinyl EP back in the 1960s called 3/4 A.D. (I now have my own copy) . This contained, among other guitar instrumentals, one which would become one of the most famous of all time: Angi (sic - it was respelled with a "J" by some later imitator) . Graham's influence on British and other folk-rock guitarists has been immense ever since (for example, he is responsible for popularising the DADGAD tuning). His album with Shirley Collins (Folk Roots, New Routes) is usually cited as an essential precursor of the whole electric folk genre, and he is held largely responsible for bringing North African and Arabian influences into the British folk-blues scene . Davy hasn't performed in public for many years, which makes his recent return to touring all the more eagerly-awaited. On the other hand, he hasn't performed in public for many years, so one may assume that he's a bit rusty.

So I approached this gig with high expectations of a very special evening, and almost equally high ones of a disappointment.

I suppose in the event I got both. Graham performed about ten numbers (not incidentally including Angi or any other famous blasts from the past) and was mostly fairly competent: good rather than exceptional. I think he was nervous: although he wasn't evidently drunk or high* he was forgetful a couple of times (titles, intros). Just once or twice (most notably when he did Banish Misfortune) we could see flashes of the old genius. It all came together and we were in the presence of magic.

(* Unlike Bert Jansch theone time I saw him, who was unable to get more than a few seconds into a number without having to restart while mumbling drunkenly to himself.)

So while I was watching him I kept holding my breath and praying that each number would go OK. Mostly they did, and sometimes they were more than OK and I stopped holding my breath.

Sometimes being in the presence of a legend is sufficient reason to go to a gig, and so it was tonight. If I'm disappointed that there weren't more flashes of genius, well, that's my problem. It's a minor miracle that he's back performing at all, and that he's done so in a place I could get to will probably be a permanent bone of contention between me and my brother (the tour isn't going close and he's no longer mobile enough to trail huge distances).

And I'm glad he didn't do Angi: because if he'd played it less than brilliantly then I would have felt cheated somehow.

Here he is in a film clip from the 1960s. The comments under the YouTube clip suggest that I may have been lucky with tonight's gig.

Supports were Mark Pavey and John Smith (the latter was much better than when I saw him supporting John Martyn). Also one number from Davy's nephew Magnus Graham who happened to be in the audience: he was lent Mark Pavey's guitar and did a Stefan Grossman number - which was, I must confess, the best guitar playing of the evening.


At 18 November, 2007 11:54, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently awaiting a refund from the venue where I saw DG on this last tour. The whole experience was painful, embarrassing and not to be repeated. He was totally out of it and played like an ill-taught amateur. Mark Pavey was folk-club floor-spot standard, John Smith entertaining.
I left the auditorium in the company of numerous other disappointed audience members.
He should hang up his touring boots while he still has some grin of credibility remaining.

At 18 November, 2007 20:53, Blogger Rob said...

Anonymous - I suspect you're one of the disgruntled YouTube commenters I referred to. Like I said, I think I was lucky: at least some of the time he was good. However, unless he left the stage after a rifdiculously short time (as I believe happened at one gig) and the venue announced its intention to offer refunds, I would think your chances of a refund are about zero. Gosh, if only I could have my money back for every disappointing gig.....


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