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Sturgill Simpson Live At The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow: Plenty of Fury With Some Sound

Appearing as part of the annual Celtic Connections city wide festival, Sturgill Simpson the producer of not only one of the ten best albums of last year, "Sound & Fury" (full review here), but one of the best albums of the last decade, "A Sailor's Guide To Earth" (full review here), had my interest was piqued as to what kind of show my first time seeing the Grammy winning artist would bring.
The band came out on stage at 9:25pm, (5 minutes early!) with Simpson saying "we've got a hard 11:30 curfew and a 2 & 1/2 hour set so we not gonna talk that much". Fine by me, let the music do the talking I thought. For the first hour they tore through "Sound & Fury" in no-nonsense style, although Simpson was clearly having monitor issues.

An elongated "Brace For Impact(Live A Little)" that morphed into a 10 minute Zeppelin-esque jam, with Sturgill giving it his best Jimmy Page brought the first half of the show to a hard rocking crescendo. Saying "that's end of the f*** you to my record label, here's the country show you really came for" he launched into older songs and some covers. "Bell Bottom Blues" didn't work for me, but "You Don't Miss Your Water" was fantastic with "Welcome To Earth(Pollywog)" and "The Promise" also standing out. 

The evening wrapped up with another hard rocking long jam, with stellar Hammond work from keys man Bobby Emmett, on the ferocious "Sailor's Guide" closer "A Call To Arms" with a little T.Rex thrown in for good measure. 
To be honest even the 'country' stuff was played in a more rock style, and Sturgill and his band were clearly enjoying rocking out. I was enjoying it too. This was blue collar, no frills, roadhouse rock and roll and all the better for it. An artist should always follow their muse, especially when on their own tour, (I get the 'play the hits!' argument at a festival), and so whilst anyone expecting "In Bloom" or "Voices" were going home disappointed, they clearly haven't been paying attention. With each release Simpson has shown that he is going to do whatever he likes musically, much like a great hero of mine Neil Young. That may keep his art fresh, and in the long term his career more viable, but it will upset some. Not this writer though. Playing all of "Sound & Fury" was just fine with me. In the words of the man himself "Life Ain't Fair and the World Is Mean".

Talking of upset, Simpson both came on and left the stage railing against the two star review of his London show in the Guardian by Michael Hann, (go here for the article), which in Hann's defence is not the only one (The Telegraph and Financial Times were equally downbeat). Perhaps a Glasgow crowd on a Friday night is a bit hardier than a midweek London crowd, (scratch that a Glasgow crowd is ALWAYS hardier and more ready to party than a London crowd), but I find it hard to reconcile boredom with what I witnessed last night. Confusion certainly, if you were expecting Waylon Jennings and got early ZZ Top, but not boring. Sure this wasn't a rock 'show', it was a show where rock was played.

Covering Clapton he sang "Do you want to see me crawl across the floor?". No not really, Sturgill, just keep "making art not friends" please. 

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