James Yorkston – Dingwalls, London, 25th September 2014
It was an interesting mix of heart-wrenching and gut-wrenchingly funny seeing James Yorkston perform with a top and fitting line-up at Dingwalls in Camden last month. On fine form, deadpan and backed by a star-studded cast of Scottish Fife talent, producer, and Hot Chip vocalist, Alexis Taylor, Yorkston has never looked more at ease than he did that night.
Joined on-stage by friends Johnny Lynch (widely known to most as The Pictish Trail), KT Tunstall, the Scots add the claik, as well as their intricately elusive vocal harmonies. As two that feature on his new album, The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society, alongside South London’s steel drummer Fimber Bravo, double bassist John Thorne, and master of strings Emma Smith, we are treated to a plethora of talent, which makes James feel most buoyant. This is obvious by his jovial humour.
Relationships, friendships and sad passings all have their moment in the limelight as the artists showcase this new album of James Yorkston’s, The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society in Camden. The straining expression on Johnny Lynch whilst the track in tribute to Doogie Paul (an ‘Athlete’ in James Yorkston’s previous band), ‘Broken Wave’, is evident, also highlighting the authenticity which threads through Yorkston’s lyrical language.
The wit and banter is fresh, swift on stage that evening between all concerned. KT pipes up about not knowing which of Lynch or Yorkston is her father, satirising some of the incestuous absurdity surrounding Fifers. James mocks Alexis, the album’s producer, on his Hot Chip discography, impishly taunting him with an improvised cover of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’, alluding to Taylor’s electro-pop partialities.
There are some beautifully profound and intricate moments throughout the performance which is telling of Yorkston’s long-lasting music career and relationship with Domino. Obviously the aforementioned ‘Broken Wave’ pulls at anyone in that crowd’s heart strings, whether or not they knew Mr. Paul, incorporating words such as “I will remember you as a man full of love and not this broken wave.”
Alexis Taylor’s lyrics on the track, ‘The Very Very Best’, “you know things they have changed James, they are not the way they were, I have good people looking after me, with my best interests at heart, and they say you have fallen too far” just push on them further. These lyrics almost sum up the situation with Fence to some degree, with the disappointing demise of relationship between Kenny Anderson and Johnny Lynch, and was perhaps effectively sang by one sitting on the fence, so to speak.
As for Tunstall, this was one of her most maudlin performances, tremulously singing along to tracks like ‘Guy Fawkes Signature’ and ‘The Blues You Sang’. Wonderfully attired, styled like thwarted folkie, Vashti Bunyan, she seems far removed from her days of ‘Suddenly I See’, engaging in a project that appears more like a charming, candid conversation of pathos between friends, a more modest affair. Lynch throws his harmonious high octaves, emotive, to tracks such as ‘Guy Fawkes’ Signature’, ‘Red Fox’ and of course ‘Broken Wave’.
The deadpan banter from Yorkston alongside masterful song writing and emotive harmonies elevate this above an average folk gig. Would it be selfish to hope for this camaraderie and profound conversation from these fine folk at yet another of Yorkston’s shows – it was a weighty yet playful delight of a gig.
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