It is probably a measure of my knowledge of Roddy Frame’s popularity that I assumed, erroneously as it transpired, that the former Aztec Camera frontman would be playing the small stage in Glasgow’s O2 ABC venue. My assumption, which didn’t make an ass of either you or me, meant two things: 1) I had to climb an extra set of stairs to get in to the venue and 2) the bar was busier than expected.
Still, the wait for an Extra Cold Guinness is always worth it.
Back to the man and the music: Frame is much more than a solidly quaffed singer from an 80s Scottish band. He is a musical legend to a legion of fans who find his music and persona alluring. Ann Turner’s article on these pages is testament to that. He engages with his aficionados using witty repartee and a kind shyness that becomes a man who will sing the most personal of songs.
Also, last night’s show was not the usual lone gunman stint with an acoustic guitar; instead a full band was present. And I swear the drummer was Randy from My Name Is Earl.
The surprise has been spoiled for you inasmuch that I am not intimate with Frame’s solo career, therefore I spent the first few songs tapping my feet and enjoying hearing new and fresh songs to me. The cheers from the crowd when songs were introduced suggested I was in a very small minority and suffice to say that there is undeniable talent there.
His music is folk infused Scots rock. A genre I have just made up, I think. He sings about his surroundings and experiences, Killermont Street a case in point, and incidentally, a crowd favourite.
When he started moving into the more familiar strains of Aztec Camera’s back catalogue I was able to appreciate his song writing and performance that bit more. Oblivious and the closer Somewhere In My Heart are prone to appearing on tartan compilations and are well regarded. The highlight of the night was the fantastic Down The Dip down a la the original acoustic only version from 1983’s High Land, Hard Rain.
During the show Frame introduced a new song and after an enthusiastic round of applause a lone voice was heard shouting from the crowd, ‘Brilliant, Roddy!’ The smiling singer replied with a glint of mischievousness in his eyes, ‘Thanks for your encouragement; I’ll write another one next year.’ No doubt a self-deprecating dig at his own less than prolific output as a solo artist.
This was a talented performer and musician playing his heart out in front of his home crowd. The biggest eye opener for me was just how good he is as an electric and acoustic guitar player. Speedy solos filled with arpeggios and runs on either instrument littered the night regularly; the sound of a sunburst telecaster getting the full treatment by a talented player is a delight. As is the caressing and soothing sound of a well played acoustic which compliments the lyrics.
And a wee factoid to finish: the O2 ABC1 holds 1,250 people and was opened in 2005 with a show by none other than, erm, Roddy Frame. I should have known.
James A. Stewart