Orville Peck @ Mono, Glasgow, 23 Oct
Orville Peck rides into Glasgow and charms the crowd with his twisted country songs, capping a huge breakout year
“Hello. I’m Orville Peck,” croons the stage’s central figure, the brim of his cowboy hat low on his brow, the rest of his face obscured by the spidery mask that's become his trademark. He brings his voice (impossibly) even lower, and, at first hushed, begins Big Sky which rises and rocks to a bellow at its climax, a transformation from the restrained performance on record.
Peck is a born performer. He commands the stage, emanating magnetism. We may be unable to see his eyes shift or his lips move beneath his disguise, yet he has charisma and eroticism to spare. Peck has gathered a reputation for ever-so-slightly twisted country music. To mainstream country – the kind that those with but a passing interest in the genre would be familiar with – he's totally anomalous. That mask, an alienating device with its leather base and lacy tassels, positions Peck as a kinky Johnny Cash. You won’t see that on the country Hot 100.
Before skipping lithely through Queen of the Rodeo, Peck extols the virtues of drag (the song’s subject is a Canadian queen), calling it the “last subversive art form” to a multitude of cheers. The crowd is a diverse one: from queer folks, a community from which ardent Peck fans have sprung in droves, to older spectators smitten with Peck’s throwback mystery and rockabilly charm. At points, behaviour becomes strangely rowdy – it’s not the first time we’ve seen a launched pint sail over our head at a show, but a lampshade is something else entirely.
The antics up front reach visceral levels too. The 'U2-in-cowboy-hats do the Velvet Underground’s Heroin' of Buffalo Run and its rolling drums increase the intensity, as do two raucous covers of George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s Something to Brag About and Gram Parsons' Ooh Las Vegas, the only numbers not taken from Peck’s debut record Pony. These are straight-up stompers compared to his dreamy Roadhouse songs.
The final two performances are (ahem) barnstorming. Dead of Night is followed by Take You Back (The Iron Hoof Cattle Call), complete with a whistling contest, before Peck and his band gallop off into the night.