Headliner Eliza Carthy had the night stolen from under her nose by support band The Eskies as both bands wheeled out brassy, raucous, piratey tunes for the sparse crowd gathered below the ABC’s giant glitterball.
The new generation of folkies like Carthy’s newly-assembled band and the likes of Bellowhead have a decidedly seafaring feel to them, with jaunty horns and lolling, salty grooves.
Carthy’s big slick 12-piece band made a rich and glorious noise and the erotic, lazy-hipped swagger of Big Machine was sleazily brilliant. But frankly it got boring pretty quickly, the songs melding together in a bit of a samey mush. An expensive-sounding, reasonably entertaining one, but a mush all the same.
The Ekies did better, though they were hardly a model of variety. Like a rum-soaked Chas and Dave they bounced and bobbed through a good-natured set of harmony-rich romps.
They are deft players and canny arrangers. Even though the trumpet and trombone were inaudible they had rich resources at their disposal: guitars, mandolin, bass, drums and four strong voices.
The big, pristine sound of a modern venue stripped them of some of the swaggering grit of their records and I would love to see them in a small whisky-doused back room somewhere, hollering and sweating and hanging from the rafters.
It helps to have an incredibly charming, funny, cheeky front man taking reviewers to task about the absurd things we say and admitting that they were running out of material rather than time.
This was their first Scottish trip - look out for their next.