A welcome return to Glasgow for one of our favourite duos, Doghouse Roses. An extremely packed venue saw singer (and guitarist) Iona MacDonald and guitarist Paul Tasker unveil some songs from their forthcoming album (with some early teasers available via a tour only EP). In addition, Tasker has just released his first solo album, Cold Weather Music, but he was modest enough to only mention it once and only play one tune from his instrumental disc.
First up was Joseph Parsons, an American living in Germany whom the Roses had befriended on their continental jaunts. Parsons, accompanied by the very nimble fingered Freddi Lubitz delivered a fine set of songs that saw him savage George Bush Jnr. and pay tribute to friends who were victims of the AIDS epidemic on the touching Roman & Michael. He opened the set with the excellent regretful love song, Guess I’m A Fool Again and offered some noirish LA sheen on Dume Room. With Lubitz on second guitar, playing his solos with a refined touch on the effects pedal, Parsons conjured up some fine sounds. Broken Vows, based on an Irish Gaelic poem was a particularly powerful performance.
The Roses’ duo gave a fine, relaxed and freewheeling performance, obviously pleased that the fans came out. With a mixture of old and new songs Iona MacDonald showed why she is one of the best singers around while Tasker continues to shine on guitar. He’s probably fed up with the Bert Jansch comparisons but from the off the opening bars of the opening song, Thunder Of The Dawn begged for it, the song as a whole an impressive opener. A couple of new songs were next unveiled, Pour, a fine lament on alcohol abuse and Feed the Monster a political message, both promising for the new album but they really hit their stride on the magnificent Woodstock (a different song) which showed why the pair might be considered a weird amalgamation of early Jefferson Airplane and The Pentangle.
There was a fine air of jollity around, a running joke regarding Iona’s guitar playing, Paul, the tutor, explaining the chords for some songs but there was no doubting the gravitas of a song like Fairground, the story of a prostitute. They ended the set with a tremendous rendition of Gone There, Tasker’s guitar rippling away as MacDonald’s voice soared, a fine example of all that is best about the pair.
The night ended with a good old-fashioned encore. Not the type where the band run off and then back on again but a genuine addition to the night’s pleasure. All four musicians came on stage and after a wee bit of fiddling about launched into a trio of covers which the crowd lapped up, an opportunity for a singsong. The Dead’s Friend Of The Devil and the traditional I Know You Rider were great fun but it was the closing cover of Lowell George’s Willin’ which really hit home. The band and audience as one as we all sang along. A cracking end to a cracking night.