Sturgill Simpson’s latest visit to Scotland this year, his first time with a band, proved as thrillingly rootsy and tasty as anyone could have wished for. The man from Kentucky was in blistering form and clearly feeling very much at home.
The fiery bluegrass in his blood underpins much of his music but there’s a hell of a lot of swampy blues, chunky rock, straight-out honky country with soulful balladry thrown in to make sure no style is left out in the cold. It’s an enthralling combination delivered with real passion and no shortage of verve and purpose.
His rise to prominence via two extra strong albums in the past 12 months – High Top Mountain and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music – is hugely understandable as the two superb collections define the boldness, quality and confidence evident when he’s on stage. He’s in charge, he’s got gripping material and we all loved it.
Water in the Well was slow and sleazy and downright brilliant as was Long White Line, with its solid flow that nudged me to thinking of Creedence Clearwater Revival. And his enthusiastic cover of The Stanley Brothers’ Medicine Springs came over all wonderfully broody, bluesy and Waylon-like, which is never a bad thing.
None of us was surprised by Simpson’s surging vocals and acoustic guitar prowess. However, we were when he revealed that his red-hot lead guitarist, who delivered a classic Telecaster-playing session, wasn’t enlisted from a dusty Texan sidewalk bar but from Estonia. Take a big bow, Laur Joamets who cranked out raw blues riffs and sweet bottle-neck guitar sounds all night in a calm and effective manner with Simpson looking on admiringly and the crowd delivering regular outbursts of applause.
Simpson’s (pictured right) emergence as a real individual shone through and giving him our support is the least we can do.
He not only brought the curtain down on this year’s hugely satisfying Glasgow Americana Festival, he brought the house down as well with a stunning show.
Mike Ritchie on Sunday, 2.00-4.00pm and Catch Up anytime.