RODDY FRAME performing WE COULD SEND LETTERS
This is a hard one to call. This gig came hard on the heels of a truly memorable night spent watching the 74 year old Leonard Cohen spend more than two and a half hours on stage playing just about everything you could have wished for during the set (there's a full review in the pipeline....). It was always going to be a near impossible task for anyone to top that particular night, even for someone as talented and lovable as Roddy Frame.
On the night, I had the great fortune to bump into, for the first but hopefully not last time in my life, Drew Wingate - someone who has been a regular contributor to TVV via the comments section. I asked Drew if he fancied doing something with a bit more depth - for instance a gig review - and to his credit, he penned the following and sent it over within 24 hours:-
Disclaimer - Before I start I should state that this review may be biased as I do tend to hero worship Roddy Frame.
What is there to be said about Roddy Frame that has not been said before, a lot actually, as he has never been given the credit, in my opinion, from the music press that he deserves for either his musical ability or his skill as a lyricist, however this can be discussed later.
I arrived just before the end of the support act, whose name I cannot remember and made my way to quite near the front., where I met your blog host JC, recognised from the "sideshow Bob" post a few months back and Richard the lucky ticket winner. After introductions and being joined by another 2 of JC’s mates I eagerly awaited Mr Frame’s presence on the stage, an all too infrequent occurrence for my liking.
This was the singer’s second night at Oran Mor and from the off he seemed to be enjoying himself. From the moment he took the stage the banter between crowd and artist started and kept up throughout, giving the sold-out gig a relaxed and more intimate feel than I have encountered before in the venue. We were informed that somebody had walked from Dundee, some one else was from San Francisco and another was trying to complete a jigsaw! This interplay between audience and performer was a breath of fresh air to me, as 2 of the last gigs that I have been at were The Fall and Spiritualized, great gigs but audience acknowledgement at both consisted of a wave at the end of the gig.
I will not list the set, as frankly I cannot remember the running order and just got caught up in the music as I had no intention of reviewing it (thanks JC for the opportunity). The songs spanned the whole of Frame’s career, all 27 years, Aztec Camera and solo incarnations and the singer looks no older than he did in the late 80’s. Only one new song - which is disappointing as it doesn’t auger well for any new material anytime soon. Personal favourites of the evening were Reason for Living, Black Lucia, Bigger Brighter Better and of course Down the Dip, The Boy Wonders & Birth of the True. The thing that always strikes me when I see Frame live is the wonderful and at times almost virtuoso guitar playing which does not always come over on either the studio or live albums for some reason. All in all it was a near perfect performance, my only gripe being at 1 ½ hrs it was over far too quickly, then again he could have performed for 3 hrs and I would still have wanted more.
If you don’t have either of Roddy Frame’s live cds I recommend that you sort yourself out and buy one if not both immediately.
So there you have it from the fingertips of an obsessive. I thought it was a very good night - the man was in great voice (at times if you closed your eyes it could easily have been 1983...) and his guitar playing was, as ever, exceptional. I was pleasantly surprised that he was so comfortable chatting away to members of the audience and I couldn't really fault the set particularly given that we got so many tracks from High Land, Hard Rain towards the end. My own personal favourite can be seen in the accompanying clip....
My grumble is that, having seen Leonard Cohen just five days earlier give such a long set, it was slightly disappointing that Roddy did what so many other performers seem to do nowadays and that's play for around 90 minutes and call it a day, even when they have the audience eating out of their palms and desperate for even just a couple more songs up to the curfew time. But then again (and this was a point that only hit me when I was thinking about it on holiday), Leonard Cohen could switch off somewhat every now and again and leave his band or backing singers to take the lead for a few minutes, whereas this was Roddy with just his guitar for company, so he did probably work as hard as the old fella had done.
mp3 : Roddy Frame - Your Smile Has Stopped The Hands Of Time
Happy Listening (and viewing).
PS : This all goes out to the lovely Greer from A Sweet Unrest who is desperate for Roddy to play a gig anywhere in California....