Fatherson @ Barrowlands, Glasgow, 5 Apr

There's a shared feeling tonight that we've all been a part of an incredible experience, as Fatherson celebrate a decade of I Am An Island

Live Review by Alisa Wylie | 08 Apr 2024
  • Fatherson @ Barrowlands, Glasgow, 5 Apr

Given that tonight’s show is to commemorate the decade that has passed since Fatherson’s debut album I Am An Island was released, it feels like a disservice to simply say that tonight is special. Not only for the band, but evidently for the sold out crowd that cling onto every word that singer Ross Leighton belts. When he takes to the stage alone to start the show, the room roars.

There’s a softness about An Island as it begins; however it denotes something more when bassist Marc Strain and drummer Greg Walkinshaw make their way onto the stage. They're joined for tonight's festivities by former guitarist and keyboardist Chris Beltran, alongside cellist Elaine Glass, both present when the album first came out. When the song kicks in with the lyrics 'Know me by name now / Know me by colour', it feels like a whirlwind. Unexpectedly, at this moment, a confetti cannon goes off; we catch two pieces.

Ten years prior to tonight, Fatherson played The Arches in support of I Am An Island. That night, I was there with my father – a quiet man who didn't really venture into the world of contemporary Scottish music. I had introduced him to Fatherson by chance, and he was taken with them, and in particular their song Hometown, the second on the record. Something about the hope in the song, the desire to look after your loved ones, had struck a chord with him. Seeing it live had moved him to tears. I’m not ashamed to share that when I hear it again tonight, seven years after his passing, I'm in a similar state. Hearing the strings, teamed with the voracity and heart of every single person on stage playing, is overwhelming. 

The rest of the album playthrough is a masterful show of a refined group of musicians, and the energy in the Barrowlands is one of nostalgic excitement and endless appreciation. As they continue through the record, the camaraderie is alive and well among the five on stage. They cascade through the first half, comprised of more upbeat numbers, to slower, more introspective songs like Half the Things and Dust. Ten out of eleven of the album's songs make up this portion of the show, as they opt to save classic set-closer James for the second half. 

Ending the first half on album closer Foreign Waters, Leighton and Beltran share a touching moment where they play the “secret song” that comes after a few minutes silence on the recording, its lyrics 'And I will point you north' reverberating around the room as everyone watches on, entranced.

When the stage goes dark, there's a universal feeling that we've all been a part of an incredibly sentimental experience. Fatherson return to the stage to play an extensive encore of fan favourites like Charm School and Always from their later albums. When they end on James, more confetti shoots into the air. Shrouded in silver, seeing this at the Barrowlands tonight is enough to make you realise that this is the kind of music that transcends time, circumstance, loss, and grief.