• Bonnie Prince Billy

Bonnie Prince Billy @ Queens Hall,12 April

Duncan Forgan | 16 May 2006

Oldham demonstrated just why he remains one of America's most important songwriters

Redemptive, uplifting, heartbreaking, honest. Hell, you could ingest a thesaurus and still not possess enough adjectives to describe Will Oldham's performance at the Queens Hall. Let's just settle for one then - utterly superlative. In the church-like confines of the venue, Oldham delivered a valedictory confessional, demonstrating just why he remains one of America's most important songwriters.

After a two-song opening salvo alone with his beat-up Gretch, Oldham was joined by Edinburgh folk stylists Harem Scarem for a sublime multi-faceted set which plumbed the emotional depths while scaling stratospheric heights. In fine voice throughout, Oldham dispensed with the niceties of audience interaction to thrill the reverent congregation with the power of his music. Meditative pathos-filled love songs sat easily alongside more raucous moments – helped in no small part by Harem Scarem's creamy feminine harmonies. And, after a triumphant encore, he was gone – his status as the designated custodian of the flame of country-sadness wholly vindicated. [Duncan Forgan]