On Tuesday night in Glasgow Rich Robinson brought his solo show to the O2 ABC2. Probably best known as guitarist and songwriter in the Black Crowes, Rich released his third solo album, The Ceaseless Sight earlier this year, and will release The Woodstock Sessions next month, a new album recorded in the Woodstock Studios, NY in front of a live audience.
The O2 ABC2 is a really small venue, and on a cold Tuesday night when Scotland were playing England in the same city it was by no means full. Support act Federal Charm had a really hard job to do, playing to an almost empty venue. They played a short but energetic set, and were quite well received by the early arrivals. Towards the end of their set as the place filled up the crowd seemed to take to them and they went off to loud cheers. A note on the sound in this venue though. Rather than projecting into the space the stage is set into a hole in the wall. Whether this affects the acoustic I don’t know but at times the vocal was non-existent, completely drowned out by the guitars. The singer must also take the blame as when he was audible he couldn’t really be understood. I have no idea what any of the songs were about! That said, they play really well and were very catchy. I’d be interested to hear a CD to see if the problems were really just down to the venue.
The venue is split into two distinct areas, standing in front of the stage, and a seated bar area behind. It was so empty when Federal Charm played that not a single soul occupied the standing area but by the time Rich Robinson came on a fairly decent crowd had arrived and while still far from full it was at least enough to generate some atmosphere. While it must have been a far cry from what he’s used to with Black Crowes it must also be quite gratifying to stand in the spotlight and know the applause is all for you and your work. Robinson’s solo work is quite different from what he does with Black Crowes and features elements of blues, rock, folk, all drawn together by his quite incredible talent on guitar. I often say that the best guitarists make their instrument speak, and he seems to do that with ease. This set was really a “best of” featuring tracks from all three of Rich’s solo albums, and also some from the recent Jimi Hendrix tribute gig he was involved in. The set started off with Places and Enemy, from his first album Paper, before coming right up to date with The Unfortunate Show and Down the Road from The Ceaseless Sight. These songs sound completely different live compared to the album recordings, as Rich and his keyboard player go off into extended instrumentals that last ages and show off the talent and ability both have in spades. As the show progressed the amount of people sitting in the bar area lessened as more and more of them moved closer to the stage, drawn into a show that was somewhat of a slow burner. Rich looked a bit unsure of himself, maybe a bit shy, unused to being the frontman. He rarely interacts with the crowd, just a short chat at the beginning and then a quick “thank you” every now and again was as much as he said. The music spoke for itself though, as the crowd grew more and more enthusiastic. The Giving Key was a highlight, as was I Know You. Rich seemed to grow into the performance and by the last half hour of a nearly two hour show he seemed to really get into it, maybe feeding off the crowd. The last half hour was brilliant, as things seemed to step up a gear. This was a good show, with a great ending. Fans of Rich Robinson will have left happy having heard what was really a greatest hits set list, and hopefully he enjoyed the reaction from a small but by the end very noisy Glasgow audience.
Links: www.federalcharm.com, www.richrobinson.net
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