“I dearly like the west…” croons Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. The diminutive frontwoman seems genuinely pleased to be back on stage at Glasgow’s ABC, the band’s first Scottish date since last summer.
Opening proceedings with their adaptation of Robert Burns’ ‘I Love My Jean’, Tracyanne shows no signs of the sore throat she has been suffering from. The self-deemed “sleazy” ‘Tears for Affairs’ showcases the pure, heartfelt voice Camera Obscura fans have come to know and love… her soothing vocals are Lemsip to the heart! Ahem.
It’s difficult not to get over-excited at this point. ‘Suspended from Class’ follows ‘Teenager’ and just when things can’t get any better, drummer Lee hits out the introduction to the Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’. Which isn’t actually ‘Be my Baby’ of course, but whimsical favourite ‘Eighties Fan’. Those eight little disorientating beats get me every time. (A small aside – football legend Pat Nevin most definitely shares my glee as he has a wee shimmy next to me!)
With a self-deprecating smile, Tracyanne explains, “We’re playing this next one because we asked if anyone had any song requests on the website and only one person replied!” The song in question is ‘I Don’t Do Crowds’, revealing a perfectionism and vulnerability which perhaps goes a long way to explain the bands’ onstage presence. It has been noted time and time again that Camera Obscura look, well, a bit dour when performing. What can you expect from a band whose songs are, by their own admission, predominantly based on love and heartbreak? Regardless, anyone who isn’t immediately struck by the unassuming humility and quiet charm which emanates from the band must be made of stone.
Feet planted firmly on the ground, the band repeatedly insist that they are nervous about tonight’s performance and even restart ‘Country Mile’ after a flawed beginning. I say flawed, yet I genuinely doubt that anyone present heard anything other than bittersweet folk splendour. That’ll be the perfectionism rearing it’s head again…
Omitting the beautiful ‘Dory Previn’ from their set is a small travesty, though somewhat forgiveable when their encore is comprised of Rod Stewart’s ‘Some Guys Have all the Luck’ and the spectacular ‘Razzle Dazzle Rose’. With a fourth album due for release in Spring, new tune ‘The Sweetest Thing’ (which has “nothing to do with Bono!” by the way) indicates that we can expect more of the same Scandinavian-esque pensive pop. Which is in no way a bad thing. Camera Obscura are one of those bands that come along every once in a while and completely steal your heart. Truly sensational.