Songwriters and poets queued up to get their fingers burned at the Station Hotel, Friday last, to the sound of guest musician Alan McClure, and the words of guest poet, Rab Wilson. These two fronted a varied evening of songs and poems. Alan performed a set of five of his own songs, from a disturbing memoir of the slave trade, to a haunting love song that had ‘em weeping into their beer. Alan accompanied himself on guitar, at times with heavy rhythm, at others with haunting lyricism. Rab gave us a snippet of vintage Burns, sharp as loch water and you could smell the byre. He talked about the relevance of the poet to modern Scottish poets and poetry. He completed the set with two poems of his own, including a hilarious modern day version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
They were ably supported by local poets and musicians, who gave us Hugh McDiarmid and more Rabbie Burns set to music, including one singer who was pulled from the audience to perform My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose. The poets too tackled a variety of subjects, from a winter’s day, to a cloud of dust, with narrative poems of childhood and memory in Scots, and a speculation on what happened to Tam O’Shanter, the morning after! Guitars, plugged and unplugged, including a mean electric bass, supported a raft of singers, singles, doubles, and threesomes, that treated us to a wonderful range of music from the margins of traditional unaccompanied to the shores of rock.
Nicola Black hosted with warmth and talent, and the audience buzzed from start to finish. If I had one suggestion to make, it would be that it would be good to hear more poetry, from more poets, next time. Come on you poets! Next Open Stage is Friday 29 February.
Review contributed by Mike Smith.