Sunday, October 6, 2019

Stevie Nimmo - Oran Mor, Glasgow, 5 October 2019

Reasons to be cheerful, part 57.  For Stevie Nimmo, it’s a hometown gig in Glasgow, in front of a busy crowd that are well and truly up for it.  For me, it’s seeing Stevie Nimmo in such good form, after what must have been a really frustrating spell since breaking his right arm a couple of years ago.  Now he’s all healed up, and it’s all smiles as he and his trio lay on a belter of a show.
Stevie Nimmo binds some spells
There’s no new material, unfortunately – part of the fallout from his injury – but with a rejigged set, a new bassist since I last saw him in the form of Kelpie McKenzie, and a less
than surprising guest making an appearance, there’s a palpable energy and freshness to this performance.
They open with ‘Chains Of Hope’, crunching opening chords leading into its churning, thudding riff to pin everyone’s ears back, before downshifting into the breezy ‘Loving Might Do Us Good’.  Moved forward in the set from the home stretch, where it’s been for the last couple of years, it’s still bright and appealing, with Craig Bacon laying down a supple foundation for Nimmo to knock out a terrific, free flowing solo, as usual including a snippet of the Allmans’ ‘Jessica’.
The Allman Brothers’ ‘Gamblers Roll’ isn’t a song that particularly lights my fire, but Nimmo still demonstrates great control and tone on his solo, while on ‘Change’, with its chiming chords and steady backbeat, Kelpie McKenzie’s backing vocals are almost inaudible.  But
Kelpie McKenzie - he's having' a larf
he finds the groove effortlessly as his boss rips out some big chords.
‘Good Day For The Blues’ reinforces the light touch evident on ‘Loving Might Do Us Good’, drifting easily as the lyric suggests, but with direction and dynamics.  Conversely ‘Still Hungry’ is a muscular statement of intent, with Nimmo giving it large on wah wah and then a wailing solo over the gutsy undertow.
‘Running On Back To You’ is one of my favourite Nimmo songs, with its subtle and restrained guitar motif paving the way for a soaring, David Gilmour-like solo, itself a mere appetiser for Nimmo to serve up a second, fierce solo at the end, sweating bullets as he does so.
The guest appearance is of course by brother Alan, and together they firstly dredge up Walter Trout’s ‘On The Rise’ from their past repertoire together, a funky but tough affair on which Alan Nimmo tosses out a very Brian Robertson-esque solo.  In the midst of this Kelpie McKenzie may not have the geezer-ish affability of his bassist predecessor Mat Beable, but Alan Nimmo’s natural exuberance coaxes a big grin out of him.  Then on ‘Pray For You’, another dynamic tune with a great hook, big brother Stevie takes the first solo before
Craig 'Crispy' Bacon - it's smiles all round!
deferring to Alan for another wild solo, before they conjure up some guitar harmonies for the finale, before Nimmo the Younger takes his leave.
‘Roll The Dice Again’ builds tension with its surging riff, before Stevie cranks up a teasing intro to Freddie King’s ‘Going Down, on which McKenzie bubbles away furiously on bass before Nimmo leads the traditional singalong.
Which only leaves the encore of Big George Watt’s epic tune ‘The Storm’, reverb-laden and atmospheric, and featuring a solo from Nimmo that’s an object lesson in tension and release, ‘playing every other lick’ as the saying goes, making terrific use of sustain as he builds themes and produces something that blazes with feeling.
Stevie Nimmo is such a down to earth and humble guy that sometimes he may not get enough credit for just how good he is.  I’ve said before that his Sky Won’t Fall was my favourite studio album of 2016, as much for the variety and quality of his songwriting as the playing.  And tonight is further evidence that his guitar playing can be spellbinding. Reasons to be cheerful – absolutely.

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