The wee tight basement of The Captain’s Rest in Glasgow paid host to this homecoming performance of their venerated second album and whilst live albums tend to lean towards the overblown and the overproduced; the setting seems ideal. Amidst hushed tones and sprightly, apologetic acoustic guitar, 'The Modern Leper' rises and grows in confidence in the space of seconds. That you then hear applause at first sounds odd; with a performance so well rounded it seems surprising that this is a live recording. 'I Feel Better' sounds bullish in comparison, with undulating wisps of guitar licks lovingly wrapped around Hutchison’s understated vocals.
What quickly becomes apparent is that behind the impassioned vocal delivery you can discern a taste of bitterness in Hutchison’s emotive, tempestuous lyrics. Whoever has broken his heart did a pretty good job with his rich Scottish drawl dripping all over the unassumingly heartless 'Good Arms v Bad Arms'. 'Fast Blood' revels in its own new found jauntiness, hinting that there may still be a light that flickers despite the hopelessness of the preceding tracks.
Between songs, playful banter is made before a devoted yet polite crowd in what still amounts to an intimate performance. Of course, the odd swear punctuates the air but then what did you expect from Scotsmen performing in a pub? Just to confirm the somewhat communal spirit, Glasgow’s very own scene hero Ross Clarke joins on mandolin for the brisk yet retrospective 'Old, Old Fashioned'. In comparison, 'The Twist' bides its time but then simply rolls along, largely thanks to Grant Hutchison’s relentless drumming.
Whilst easily overlooked thanks to the warm natured setting and banter, there are lyrics which could easily be deemed as cold, others that are downright vitriolic as heard during the angst ridden 'Keep Yourself Warm'. However his heart was broken, it is this track in particular which shows the depths of his torment. Yet if that was the sour aftermath, then Poke is the bittersweet optimism that follows with its eloquently poetic delivery until you note the darkest of lyrics depicting the bleakest of break-ups.
With the songs stripped down, their set almost sounds naked; emotionally, evocatively raw. Not only does the acoustic guitar amplify the soulfulness and sincerity of Hutchison’s vocals but the lyrics resonate, free to linger with almost painful intent. Whilst Hutchison has stated that he could not care how much the band profit from the release, the indelible quality should garner multiple listens and a fair few pennies in the coffers.