It had been quite some time since Dan Willson, aka Withered Hand had played a full band show in Glasgow so there was a fair degree of anticipation, but first we had former (and maybe current, who knows!) Trashcan Sinatra member John Douglas opening the show with some solo acoustic numbers.
The music was a selection of his own solo and Trashcans songs with the odd cover as well. With an expressive voice slightly reminiscent of Paul Buchanan, some sensitive guitar playing and an understated but affable stage presence and chat, the half hour passed enjoyably and quickly.
Of his own songs ‘I’m Not The Fella For You’ was a highlight, along with the classic ‘Weightlifting’ and a nice Prefab Sprout cover, the relatively obscure ‘We Let the Stars Go’ (his band having supported Paddy McAloon’s combo back in 1990). It would be interesting to see what John does with a band in tow but for the time being this was a good start to the show.
Appearing with a full band, including brass on several tracks, Dan blasted through a good portion of his new album ‘How To Love’, including set highlights ‘Waking Up’ and album opener ‘Feelings’. Tracks from his other two albums also got an airing and it was great to see Dan in good form, joking with the audience and the rest of the band. The full sound also suited the venue well and it looked pretty much full.
The new songs came across well as a further development of Dan’s usual themes of religion (he was raised a JW and the aftermath of that experience has certainly left a mark on his songwriting), self-deprecation and finding love. Old favourites like ‘No Cigarettes’ were hailed like old friends by the audience and overall it was the fullest manifestation of Dan’s oeuvre that BM has witnessed, and that’s over at least a decade and a bit. So overall a real triumph and let’s hope there are more shows soon – he deserves a wider audience so how about Celtic Connections or a couple of summer festivals?
Photos by Catching Light Photography