AGS CONNOLLY, Star Folk Club, The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, April 14, 2015.
While I may be struggling to get my head around exactly what Dale Watson’s ‘Ameripolitan’ movement is – one that Ags Connolly readily supports – it was dead easy to open my mind to enjoy Ags’ blissful, melancholic songs at this absorbing gig.
Country music by the man from Oxfordshire is respectfully observed but his drawled lyrics and tone meant everything throughout the show sounded fresh, revitalized and in no small measure stirring.
It helps when you’ve got a bundle of strong, evocative songs – and Ags has, by the flatbed truckload as his current album, How About Now emphasises. A Good Memory For Pain swung things in the “great opener” direction, setting the tone for a set that wandered seamlessly through timeless true country territory highways and by-ways with the likes of Johnny Paycheck looking in, admiringly. She Doesn’t Need Anyone Anymore is one of my favourites from the album and here it was swooning and gorgeous with a real Merle Haggard growling flow.
One of Ags’ oldest creations, Trusty Companion has a terrific tempo and stomp while Get Out Of My Mind, the song that took him the longest to write, got an outing that was heartfelt as Ags caressed the lyrics with all the tenderness he could muster in his adopted vocal American twang.
On I Saw James Hand, about one of the artiste’s idols, Ags sings: “I didn’t know I was country and that made up mind // when I saw James Hand in London first time.” It’s a great homage with Ags singing about getting the T-shirt of his hero and all. On That’s The Last Time, the vocals were cracked and warm and, of course, the perky history lesson album opener, When Country Was Proud, re-inforces Ags’ whole outlook on music and life.
Listening to him live, you’ve got to remember that How About Now is, remarkably, his debut album, now widely acclaimed. Based on it and the impressive quality of this sparkling live show, the future on that dusty country road he looks down so fondly is filled with endless musical possibilities.