In the midst of a weather and transport nightmare this gig almost did not go ahead but The Glad are made of stern stuff.
With an audience of around 20 in attendance Howie Reeve kicked things off with a set of his uniquely eccentric bass-driven musings on life. Howie played a brace of new songs plus some from further back, all solo except for one tune where paper bag headed Edinburgh idiot savant banjo player Cod O’Donnel joined him – soundman Dave coping with both of the evening’s acts’ slightly eccentric set-ups admirably.
Although nominally based in Glasgow, Howie is originally from the North of England and has spent a lot of time touring Europe recently. The poetic lines over the bass strummings and tappings concern a variety of subjects from personal interaction to ecology and human behaviour. He encouraged audience participation on two songs to great effect and had us warmed up a bit before Helen came on.
Ms. McCookerybook had travelled from Newcastle earlier in the day and when trains ran into problems (and the replacement bus had to be replaced – very HMHB-esque…) it appeared to be touch and go whether she would get to Glasgow, but get here she did and she seemed quite happy about it. Starting in the late 1970s with the band The Chefs, Helen has had a long, if not especially successful musical career (her ‘day job’ as a doctorated lecturer in commercial music aside) and seems at ease in her skin. Playing quite simple lines on a nifty red guitar, she also debuted some new tracks as well as going through some older material.
Elon Musk got a bit of a kicking in one of the first tunes about man moving to Mars, new track ‘Beach Walk’ celebrated the joys of being solo and free to roam, while ‘Temptation’ adapted what she said was part of a children’s song project into something a bit darker and more adult-themed. Her voice is as sweet as ever, and while she admitted to being tired (no wonder!) and a bit frozen of the fingers to pull off all the new guitar lines, she certainly got a good response from the audience.
Far older Chefs tune ‘Let’s Make Up’ took us back to a more innocent time (’19’ magazine was considered racy…) while ‘London Set’ referenced how partying hard eventually gets boring. ‘World Wood Web’ espoused the theory that trees communicate with each other (why not?) and ‘The Sea’ had the audience providing an evocative vocal backdrop to Helen’s take on the refugee crisis in the English Channel.
She finished with ‘Good Life With A Bad Apple’ which she admitted (“don’t usually say this but since you all came out on a cold night”) was of course about her ex-husband, and it did contain a few plangent home truths about self-delusion and self-preservation. And then she was off – the end to a very entertaining and engaging night.
Thanks also to Dave on sound who coped with both artists’ slightly eccentric set-ups admirably.