The hipster craft beer domain that is Tenants’ fine addition to Glasgow’s East End was pretty packed on Thursday night as fans of Blue Rose Code flocked to Drygate for the official (north of the border) unveiling of Grateful, the single that is formal notification of a new Blue Rose Code album due in the New Year. East and west were united here as the Edinburgh folk were through in droves joining the Glaswegians in what was something of a celebration, for once a hashtag (#grateful) taking on a real presence.
Ross Wilson who is Blue Rose Code was joined tonight by Wrenne on vocals, John Lowrie, keyboard, Wild Lyle Watt, guitar, Nico Bruce, double bass and Colin Steele on trumpet. A superb outfit, they came across as a whirlwind on the driving opener, In The Morning, Steele giving notice that his trumpet was going to be to the fore tonight before a mesmerising segue into Silent Drums, Watt’s guitar scattering notes galore. A fine reading of Hugh MacDiarmid’s poem Scotland followed before Wilson dipped into the new album for a glorious and rousing love song which displayed the chemistry between him and Wrenne as they vocally sparred. A fluid line-up, the band alternated between their full set up to a trio with some songs featuring Wilson alone on stage. Favourites such as True Ways Of Knowing, Come The Springtime and Pokesdown Waltz had the audience in thrall with the set closer I See The Light summoning up a fine communal sense of Celtic soul.
For an encore Wilson paid tribute to the late Michael Marra and his hometown for the night with a moving rendition of Mother Glasgow before welcoming another of his band of brothers, Angus Lyons, on stage for a heartfelt and very moving Grateful. It was a triumphant show with Wilson scattering all notions of east and west aside. Edina or Mother Glasgow, we’re essentially all the same and the crowd beamed with pride for this erstwhile son of Scotland who is invigorating, soulful and above all else a magnificent writer and performer.
There was excellent support in the form of Norrie McCulloch, another artist on the verge of releasing a new album, the follow up to his excellent Old Lovers Junkyard. With Iain Sloan of The Wynntown Marshals on pedal steel and Dave McGowan from Belle and Sebastian/Teenage Fanclub on double bass McCulloch slipped comfortably into his set with the mellow Still Looking For You, his harmonica and the pedal steel yearning while Call Me Home featured a fine solo from Sloan. The trio conjured a wonderful bucolic sound buoyed by McGowan’s burbling bass lines with the steel guitar the sugar topping on the already sweet melodies. There were several songs from the forthcoming album, These Mountain Blues, including New Joke and the title song that reaffirmed this writer’s belief that McCulloch is currently one of our finest writers, his Ayrshire roots and working class background woven into superior countrified folk songs.