Live Reviews

  Way to Blue - The Songs of Nick Drake live at The Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow

We are now approaching  forty years since the death of Nick Drake but the mysticism will remain forever as here is someone who posthumously went platinum with his beautiful, but at times disturbing, final album "Pink Moon". The sadness behind this being that his demise may have came from the very fact that very few back in the "smoke age" recognised his sublime talent.

The longing, desperate vocal tone in his songs flicks a switch deep within the souls of many music lovers and Drake's songs seem like they are from a different world for when we look out of our windows it is hard to see anything matching the beauty that Drake creates in his dreamy autumnal sound. His respect is worldwide and, while some may be jumping on the bandwagon, to his loyal legions of fans he was taken away all too early and in desperately sad circumstances.

Robin Hitchcock, the famed extrovert known for his comedic and surreal songs, started the proceedings with his energetic version of "Parasite" from the aforementioned "Pink Moon" and, while his jovial persona and delivery is not in keeping with anything Drake did, the sense of homage still came across.

Danny Thompson, a survivor from the Drake recordings, appeared on double bass along with Neil McColl and his flawless replication of Drake's mesmerizing guitar style.  Joe Boyd, the show's curator reflected on Drake in poignant terms by commenting on the "fragility of musical existence in contrast with a huge musical legacy".

Krystle Warren stole the show somewhat with her justifiably theatrical rendition of "Time Has Told Me, as well as an acappella version of "Hanging On A Star"-  Drake's one line song questioning why, despite his unique talent, his brilliant and wistful albums peaked at approximately  3000 units on original release. 

Complete with Squeeze Box, Lisa Hannigan - with the help of the fantastic backing band and string section - delivered one of the most eerie yet beautiful pieces of live music I have heard with her version of Drake's unsettling "Black Eyed Dog". Stuart "Belle and Sebastian" Murdoch got some local support when he walked on stage; he did justice and more, especially to "Fly".

Green Gartside of Scritti Pollitti fame was also worth a mention with an enchanting version of "Fruit Tree" and an extra special treat was Vashti Bunyan's nervous but beautiful re-telling of a song by Drake's mother Molly. To end, Robin Hitchcock indulged himself slightly with his own song "I Saw Nick Drake" but this was preceded by a beautiful ensemble version of Voice from the Mountain.  

The obvious irony of such a brilliantly produced live show like this is Drake's reported paralysing aversion to playing live with one of his musical friends famously commenting that watching him live was "painful, he would say nothing to the crowd, just obsessively tune his guitar for an unnecessary amount of time between songs, he was ill at ease". The common conception is that this was not the actions of a show man but the actions of a troubled and tortured soul and this before it became fashionable in the world of music to be such a thing.

This show was a truly stunning and touching tribute to Drake and, like many musicians no longer with us there is always the tendency to over laud them but Drake sits as well with the musical genius tag as any other you could mention.

Review Date: January 20 2010