Celtic Connections: Edwyn Collins @ ABC, 23 Jan

Article by Gillian Watson | 28 Jan 2009

There's only one man everyone's here to see tonight. The packed-out ABC greets Edwyn Collins with nothing short of adoration; to paraphrase Darius Danesh, you can feel the love in the room. Collins' voice is strong and he is the show's charismatic centre: the five-piece band are arranged in a semi-circle around him, and grin with disbelief as they watch him perform.

The band's modesty belies their skill, though, as they shift effortlessly from the Postcard punk of Blue Boy to Rip It Up's squelchy synthpop. Guitarist Roddy 'Aztec Camera' Frame's chemistry with Edwyn is pivotal; Collins' fellow former 'Sound of Young Scotland' standard-bearer, with his fresh face and effortless guitar, seems to channel Collins' younger self - but while he has the chops and the style, he doesn't quite have the spirit, and for this he has to look to the man sitting to his left.

We defy anyone to see a man still recovering from a life-threatening brain haemorrhage tear through classic single Falling and Laughing and not to be moved to tears. Tonight, everyone falls and laughs with Edwyn, and each time, we are aware of just how lucky we are that we, and he, are able to pick ourselves back up again. [Gillian Watson]