LIVE REVIEW: King Creosote, Hall 2, The Sage Gateshead

KING CREOSOTE ... played a superb show in Hall Two of The Sage Gateshead.
KING CREOSOTE ... played a superb show in Hall Two of The Sage Gateshead.

“THIS one is in memory of Jon Hopkins - who sadly is with Coldplay tonight.”

It doesn’t usually bode well when one of a show’s most memorable moments is a gag, but Kenny Anderson’s lighthearted jab at his occasional collaborator had his audience in raptures.

Luckily, it merely contributed to what was already a superb night in Hall 2 of The Sage, before a sold-out audience attracted by one of Britain’s finest - and wittiest - folk artists.

The aforementioned quip preceded John Taylor’s Month Away, the opener to Anderson and Hopkins’ sublime Mercury-nominated Diamond Mine; a record which gave the Fife singer his breakthrough after years as a strictly cult concern.

Now, though, its status as his biggest draw has been usurped by From Scotland With Love, last year’s glorious LP which served as the soundtrack to Virginia Heath’s feature-length documentary of the same name.

Produced as part of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games’ cultural programme, the score, together with a wealth of archive footage, acted as a vivid window to times gone by; a portrait of a bygone generation whose toils, occupations and choices have shaped the nation as we know it today.

This exploration of tradition lies at the very essence of folk music, so it was hardly surprising its songs featured heavily in Anderson and his full seven-piece band’s setlist.

These ranged from the fishwives’ tale Cargill to the spine-tingling Something To Believe In, not to mention the excellent uptempo kick of For One Night Only, which even came with an extended intro.

Best of all, Miserable Strangers was a beautiful documentation of the struggles of those who emigrate abroad, with its key refrain “at the back of my mind/I was always hoping/I might just get by” perfectly encapsulating the spirit of the entire project.

These records will have been a natural point of access for much of tonight’s audience, yet rather than dominating, these numbers were intersected by deeper cuts from the extensive King Creosote catalogue.

It must have been tough narrowing them down (seriously, even he probably hasn’t a clue how many records he’s released by now), but he evidently did a fine job, as some were just as good.

My Favourite Girl, for instance, is a popular draw among fans, but you can bet plenty here were experiencing its joys for the first time, while the quiet intensity of Carry On Dancing provided perhaps the best display of the striking, weary voice and gorgeous falsetto which permeates Anderson’s music.

It all made for a superb showing, and one bolstered by a support slot from his own guitarist, Sorren Maclean.

With Scotland boasting such a flourishing folk scene, it’s not always easy for newcomers to stand out, but his performance will have persuaded many to invest in his upcoming EP, Way Back Home.

Accompanied by violin and cello, the Mull songwriter evidently has a gift of his own, providing an endearing opening to a truly fabulous evening.