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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Daniel Wylie - The Old Hairdressers - 22/03/14 (Glasgow)

If donning a turtleneck sweater, sporting a goatee, carrying a book written by Sartre and attempting to pull off the wearing of a beret while clamping your lips around the electronic version of a Gitane between quoting Kerouac is your sort of thing then the Old Hairdressers is probably your type of drinking den.
The neat mohican and over large beard combo also fits in nicely with the d├ęcor to.
As does the baring of the hairy ankle as the ongoing sans socks fashion statement continues to dent the profits of the hosiery market.
None of this is however a problem for me as I am of a vintage that considers hipster hate to be a rather immature response to people just doing what they want, but it is fair to say that the venue does attract a certain demographic that could encourage the owners to rebrand under the banner of Hipster Heaven.
On entering the place my first thought was ‘Oh this is where people go when Costa in Waterstones closes’, but it was honestly just an observation rather than a criticism.

The bijou no frills upstairs space that is set aside for exhibitions and gigs was however very different.
It really is simply a space that lends itself to being filled with anything, and for this evening it was to be a Stripped Session from STG promotions who had coaxed Daniel Wylie out to play a bare bones acoustic set supported by an act called Bullit.
A band who I have just noticed are a sh away from an unfortunate moniker.
They are of course not full of it though, and instead are a very talented trio who play material that hovers around settling on west coast garage psychadelia that would comfortably exist on an acoustic pebbles album.
There’s also the residue of the Britpop years hanging off the material, but not to the extent that the songs sound like a homage to fag end years of Oasis and Blur trying to outdo each other in the ‘are they still arguing’ stakes.
It’s more just some shading and mainly sits on the shoulders of the swagger the vocalist has.
All in it’s not a bad thing and allows the songs to spread out over a few eras and draw in the listener.
The harmonizing and additional backing vocals that filled the sound out deserve to be highlighted as it is their well handled inclusion that lifts the band from being a good one to something with a bit more to them.
The addition of a reworked Black Crowes song was a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one.
As opening acts go it’s doubtful that anyone felt short changed with their performance and it’s actually a no brainer to say that others should check them out if they have the opportunity.

Meanwhile the Daniel Wylie performance was less of a gig and more of a gathering of the clans.
With it being billed as an intimate performance it certainly lived up to that with the audience seemingly being made up of mainly family and friends with a smattering of fans.
Either that or Daniel knows literally everyone.
With dedications being made, anecdotal stories being told and a guest appearance from his son this was a show that could be used as the template for other artists to learn from.
It’s probably all to do with promoting a relaxed balance and keeping the flow of chat and songs going until they pick up their own momentum, but with so many trying to achieve this and failing it’s worth mentioning how effortlessly Daniel, along with Neil Sturgeon, managed it.
It’s certainly a nice touch, and one that doesn't seem to be contrived in anyway.

As for the music there is only one word to describe it and that’s sublime.
From start to finish it really did hit the heights.
While I'm happy to admit to being a fan of Cosmic Rough Riders, and Daniels solo material, I never really picked up on how big REM were as an influence until this show, and I have no idea why.
It’s just so bloody obvious.
Maybe it was sitting in some aural blind spot, hanging about on the periphery of what I was hearing, but it’s down to me for not picking up on something that was probably screaming right in my face ‘look at me, look at me’
Live it really does come to the fore though, and it is probably more apparent with the material being stripped down to the basics of just voice and guitar.
With an excellent rendition of The One I Love they just nailed their colours to the mast of the boys from Athens, Georgia, and I am very pleased that I was there to see this.
Sort of maybe edging on feeling privileged.

One of the most impressive things that I picked up on was that this show as not hung on a nostalgia peg, and there was no real push from the audience for Daniel and Neil to provide a trip down memory lane with an all Cosmic Rough Riders set at the expense of them showcasing post CRR material.
Instead everything was equally welcomed and appreciated, and that’s something that is as rare as a natural tan being seen at any Glasgow taxi rank at 3am.
So big round of applause for the audience whose openness to appreciate the music in its entirety restored my ever increasingly cynical view of live events not really attracting music fans.
Thankfully last week I didn't say that I would eat my hat if I was to experience a night like that as right now I would have to be biting down on it, and that would have broken my heart as I really do love my hat.

However no matter how good the night was it was made even better by the company.
I was stunned in the nicest possible way to hook up with friends from Newcastle who surprised me by attending unannounced.
A real icing on the cake part of the evening and one I hope is repeated sooner rather than later.

Take a bow Billy and Elaine for making my night better than I could have dreamed of.

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