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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Celtic Connections 2010: Eric Andersen, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 17 January

Yes, that's right, the Eric Andersen who was one of the original generation of New York-based singer-songwriters publishing in Broadside magazine, along with Dylan, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Len Chandler, Patrick Sky, Malvina Reynolds and dozens of others. Like most of his contempraries, Eric had a couple of big hit songs which were covered by hundreds of guitar-picking singers, not that it made them much money. Eric's hits were "Thirsty Boots" and "Close The Door Lightly When You Go" (of the latter, he said on Sunday that his biggest regret was never having seen Johnny Cash perform it: apparently it was a regular part of JC's set for some time).

So when you see a legend performing half a century on fromn his glory days, what's it like? A few years back I saw Davey Graham, who while still a great player was a shadow of what he'd once been. The Incredible String Band in the Noughties weren't a patch on the ISB of the Seventies. Al Stewart continues to improves, but then Al matured late as a performer, only really hitting his stride in the mid-Seventies.

Eric Andersen still has it. It's not just that when you hear him do the old classics he sounds as good as he did in the Sixties. It's not just the relaxed way he performs, a laid-back style developed over decades. Nor is it the undoubted quality of his more recent songs, very different though they are from his early work ("The Rain Falls Down In Amsterdam" for example, about the rise of the far right in present-day Europe). It's the near-perfect rapport with the audience. OK, so Glasgow and New York have a lot in common and it's easy for a native of one to be accepted in the other. But the audience on Sunday had come from all over. I'd come from Edinburgh, and the guy in front of me had come from London.

His guitar playing is good (not flashy-good, just competent-good) and his piano playing even better. He can still play a harmonica in a bridle and sound convincing, and his wife Inga (from Amsterdam, and at a guess about 15 years his junior) is an excellent backing vocalist. I'm not too familiar with his more recent material so my set list is patchy, but he definitely played:

Close The Door Lightly When You Go
Rain Falls Down In Amsterdam
Violets of Dawn
Before Everything Changed
Thirsty Boots

He was ably supported by Craig Jeffrey, whose talent clearly exceeds his experience but whose own songs were pleasant enough, and whose covers of "Hallelujah" and of a song by the obscure punks Jim Eats World were well-chosen.

Here is Eric doing "Violets of Dawn" about a year back in the States somewhere. I think it gives a sense of what he's like live.


At 21 January, 2010 22:55, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

I've complained before, we are in a city of entertainment, but not many facilities that seat less than 3,000, or charge less than $69 per person. We get few interesting acts coming through.

At 10 February, 2010 03:03, Blogger Rob said...

I'm definitely spoiled, living in one big urban centre with another a short drive away, both with arts festivals of various kinds (inc. film festivals). The UK probably doesn't have many places with your exact problem, but plenty where nothing much happens, ever.


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