Covers assist the warmth and beauty of the evening.
The Arches holds a special place for many Glaswegians and the venue is currently celebrating its fifteenth year of bringing music and culture to the masses. Too many nights to mention have been lost in a wall of sound and a thrall of sweat and good times as the regular dance events sound tracked the lives of the city's inhabitants. The Kathryn Williams show was something a bit different though, as the seats laid out in front of the stage proved. For the first time ever in this writer's memory, the set was accompanied by the continual rumble of Glasgow trains running overhead, usually drowned out by bass levels of a dangerous nature, playing side by side with the acoustic and plaintive music on show.
Focussing mainly on songs from her latest album, 'Leave to Remain' the 3 piece that Williams assembled for the tour quickly set to work weaving their magic and allowing their leader's vocals to soar and shine for all their worth. Simply, Kathryn Williams vocals are majestic, ranging in colour and depth and bringing to life stories that would seem dull or mundane in the hands (or larynx) of another.
And for all that the show was a traditional folk evening; there were signs of technological wizardry assisting proceedings, particularly when Williams was able to accompany herself on vocals. On 'Little Black Numbers' the bass line may have throbbed in double-time, but the effect strewn vocal ending was a high point and allowed the singer to show her modern leanings.
For some reason, the music of Big Star has always had a strange hold over the music loving population of Glasgow. Perhaps it's their care-free melodies, their continual losing battles or the way they influenced favoured sons Teenage Fanclub but the band's memory has always thrived in the city. Kathryn Williams cover of 'Thirteen' did nothing to diminish this reputation, attacking her guitar with a violin bow to create an impressive opening and then beguiling the crowd with her quiet yet passionate vocals. The song is a touching nostalgic look back to simpler times and Williams' vocals convey the right level of teenage rebellion, mixed with the wisdom that comes with age.
In between songs, Williams was also sharp, at times simply introducing the track and allowing the music to breathe, at others, meandering and embellishing the stories. There's not many folk artists who upon introducing a song written about her husband, would muse that perhaps it should been entitled 'Big Cock', almost akin to a Spinal Tap tribute. The crowd may have been older and more staid than what you would expect from a Friday night in Glasgow but even they couldn't help but laugh at her ruminations.
The encore never let up with the treats either, with the first song Williams was joined by support act Tobias, for a cover of Paul Simon's 'Homeward Bound.' Given that rhymin' Simon himself was playing in Glasgow that night, it was another quirky twist to proceedings and although there were a few lyrical stumbles near the end, the duet came over as fun and positive.
Allowing the crowd to bellow out requests for the night's final track can sometimes end in carnage but in this instance, sanity prevailed with many cries of 'Hallelujah' hitting the spot. Older heads may reflect on the Leonard Cohen original whilst younger fans will swear by Jeff Buckley's cover but Williams herself performed a successful version on her own covers album and tonight's version was no less special. With the final track of the night, she slipped free of any shackles and wowed the crowd with a bellowing version, fully showcasing her range of vocal skills.
Promising to return to the city anytime the fans want a show, Kathryn Williams made all the right noises on a night when she hit all the right notes.