Presented by Mellowtone and Ceremony Concerts
The Magnet, Liverpool
December 15th 2016
Reviewed by Rob Harrison
James Yorkston seems to come from that particular school of Scottish singer-songwriters. There is a certain wistfulness to the delivery punctuated by occasional guitar twanging.
This covers other acts like King Creosote and Arab Strap, which lyrically Yorkston reminds me of, which he name checks later in the set.
There is an interesting sense of surrealism to the lyrics, reminding me of the poet Stevie Smith in songs like ‘Tortoise Regrets Hare.’ Sometimes he even sounds like Donovan, but wasn’t Donovan Scottish? So there you go.
Tonight the Magnet has the feel of an old folk club as a large part of the audience here seem to be quite middle-aged and appear to only have set foot in here because of Yorkston’s presence here. Usually the Magnet plays host to various alternative indie bands but for folk it’s a great venue too.
The Magnets retro facade reminds me of places in Chicago. in fact it’s a bit of a hidden treasure to be sure.
Towards the end of the set Yorkston mentions how good the Egg
Cafe is, another national treasure here in liddypool.
Yorkson started life in what was called the Fence Collective, a group of songwriters based in Fife who released several lo-fi recordings on Fence Records, which at one point included singer KT Tunstall, before she fled to London accusing the members of being a bit laid back and lacking ambition.
For people who lack ambition they have done remarkably well, but there does seem a certain laid back feel to the performance tonight. This does not seem evident with the punters as they seem to be enthralled. Maybe I’m being a meanie.
But there does seem a certain amount of musical hubris at play here. In a sense a sort of misplaced satisfaction. The set seems to go on forever, and then he decides to carry on over his allotted time. The concert then appears to drift into a sort of ending, and then eventually reaches a kind of entropy.
In conclusion then and having done research on James Yorkston, this appears to be his first solo gig in a while. Normally he can be found in the company of others. Lyrically he is quite interesting.
But left on his own he is perhaps found wanting.