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5 May 2014

The Unwinding Hours, Twilight Sad & RM Hubbert – Oran Mor

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If I was ever to host something celebratory in any capacity within Glasgow then I would surely use the Oran Mor Auditorium as my venue. A setting of epic proportions with a constellation emblazoned roof that was so high it made me dizzy, rainbows lighting up strategic corners of the room and significant quotes scribed.

Whilst preoccupied by awe, all of a sudden one man and his guitar appear on stage. This was the perfect setting for the three artists that were about to leave us bewildered. RM Hubbert is someone that I can write about as easily as breathing. There have only been a handful of times that I have seen artists command their instruments in a way that it is like one of their limbs. RM Hubbert makes it look effortless. The intricacies of his guitar playing set a spark in you as he has this ridiculously clever way of showering his music with enough emotion to ignite a forest. His in between song banter is melancholic comedy that makes you smile at him with comfort and understanding. My favourites ‘Tipsy Tapsy’ and ‘For Maria’ are played with as much confidence as ever and it is like every single person in the room is acknowledged. RM Hubbert is joined on stage for his final song with Esperi’s Chris Lee-Marr. This is a new collaborative track using guitar and cajon that has a beautiful South American feel about it, the two play like they have been for years. People are whispering to each other now about RM Hubbert and like the trees talk to one another it is this secret knowledge after seeing him live one has that makes you feel so very lucky.

The second course arrives in the form of James and Andy of The Twilight Sad. Having never witnessed them playing acoustically and just the full captivating onslaught of The Twilight Sad it is a beautiful thing that I am witnessing them in the same venue I saw them in for the first time. What can I say? James looks at times like a rabbit in the headlights, but once he opens the chasms to his lungs out bursts the most illustrious voice. At times you feel like you are being sung to from a different world and genius guitar passages make me realise exactly how great this band are. ‘Cold Days From The Birdhouse’ has always been a very special and significant song for me. ‘Your red sky at night won’t follow me’ echoes round this heavenly building and it is quiet enough that I am scared people may hear my heartbeat rattling in my chest.

Feeling somewhat breathless after 2 peaks of a rollercoaster we are now travelling up the rail to the end summit. The first time I saw The Unwinding Hours was in Stereo, having seen Aereogramme previously, I like others was thankful that Craig B and Iain Cook had decided to come back to life.

The set opens with one of my favourite songs in some time. ‘Knut’ is a reflection of superiority; it is an anthem without question and a song that blows the cilia grass on your arms and neck up to a higher plane. We all have our own interpretations of ecstasy, but as their set progresses I am sure the general consensus for many is this is it. Tracks like ‘Perfect Liquid Shell’ are played with full blown dynamic vigor and the sublime percussion talents of Jonny Scott are noteworthy. As this reaches its crescendo it is like fighting against the eye of a storm.

Gigs like these make me realise how lucky I am to have discovered all these musicians over the years. As derivatives transpire in the shape of The Unwinding Hours I cannot fathom at times how starved my ears would be without them. The one thing to remember is it is an experience. All inhibitions are lost through the simple set up of 5 musicians and for me tonight was a homecoming of sorts. This gig will meditate in my consciousness and soul for some time to come.

Halina Rifai

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