On a rain soaked and cold Saturday night in Glasgow the troglodyte trappings of the cellar in Blackfriars offered a warm and dry repose. The cave like comparison seems apt as it was a bear of a man, big, bearded, cradling a tiny four stringed acoustic guitar, who emerged from the shadows to mesmerise the audience for the next hour or so. Cam Penner looks ferocious, a look belied by his easy going and gentle introductions, but when he sang he drew the audience into a different world, one that’s sparse, cold, steeped in nature and history. Be it the reminiscences of Once A Soldier, the spectral Ghost Car or the gutbucket blues of Memphis Penner preached,crooned and hollered, stalking the stage, gently picking his guitar or banging a drum kit.
Cradled in the corner throughout this was Penner’s foil, fellow Canadian Jon Wood who conjured sounds from a variety of instruments and effects. On guitar, Wood ploughed the blues as sweet, sad and occasionally savage notes flew from his fingers while his lap steel added colour and atmosphere. Integral as his guitar efforts were to the show it was Wood’s use of a sampler which created a twilight zone where ghosts dwelled and shadows beckoned while sampled keyboards added to the tapestry of the sound.
Together the pair delivered a show that cut to the bone with occasional shivers to the spine as Penner spun his tales and wove a web that tantalisingly drew us in to a world far removed from a rainy Glasgow night. A trip to a heart of darkness drawn from Penner’s life and country that the Glasgow punters for the most part live vicariously but for the duration of the show we were in the wilderness with this big-hearted man as our guide.
There’s still time to catch Penner and Wood this week, dates here:
Nov 13 Kirkcaldy, Nov 14 Woodend Barn Banchory, Nov 15 Blue Lamp Aberdeen, Nov 16 Harbour Arts Centre Irvine