The Pictish Trail / Rozi Plain @ The Glasgow Art Club, 24 January
Despite its air of exclusivity (playfully mocked multiple times by tonight’s headliner), the Glasgow Art Club proves to be a felicitously intimate setting for this evening’s entertainment. Between the candles and couches, coffee tables and Persian rugs, the overall impression is of an oversized living room – an appropriately cosy venue for two highly personable performers.
Rozi Plain opens her set with Joined Sometimes Unjoined’s Take It, its quiet elegance ensuring all ears fall under her understated spell. Initially, Plain gets a little help from friends Kate and Jamie of This is the Kit, who add vocals and percussion respectively. When the duo are later forced to dash away to play another gig across town, a solo Plain showcases a couple of recently-written newbies, before inviting onstage her label boss plus backing band for a charming finale topped by the ever-excellent Humans.
The boss in question is, of course, the always affable Johnny Lynch - aka The Pictish Trail, aka tonight’s headline act. The backing band meanwhile, is recent Fence-signings eagleowl, bulking out Lynch’s compositions in thrilling ways – Of Course You Exist, for instance, is particularly well treated by the addition of strings, its threads nicely unwound into a vaguely Layla-ish coda. Both parties seem to thrive on the setup, with Lynch apparently relishing his role as band leader, and his conscripts’ enjoyment evident from the grins and flourishes (with drummer Owen Williams deserving special mention for his stellar showboating).
With a full house of talent at his disposal, Lynch recasts his lo-fi, electronically processed originals in new and flattering shapes, demonstrating the versatility of his songwriting in the process. But the evening’s boldest reversioning is reserved for the closing number: an epic take on Bonnie "Prince" Billy’s Master and Everyone, beefed up and expanded to several minutes of monstrous, throat-shredding splendour.