Aidan Moffat, is a Scottish vocalist and musician best known for his work with Malcolm Middleton in Arab Strap; now collaborating with musician (bassist, pianist, guitarist and composer) Bill Wells it was the last show of their nine day tour as they landed in York last night. Their record ‘Everything Is Getting Older’ was released in May of last year and has been described as everything from ‘stunning’ to ‘cleverly despondent’. Having previously attended gigs at The Duchess, it was great to see the venue had adapted its space for what was to be a very intimate affair. Tables and chairs had been placed in close proximity to the stage, each with its own candle, the finishing touch to an almost romantic atmosphere.
With two support acts to take to the stage it was great to see Moffat pop out of the back during Epilogues’ (a young singer song-writer) opening set to see how he was doing on stage. Second to take to the stage was fellow Glaswegian guitarist and musical friend of the band, RM Hubbert. A technically stunning guitarist, Hubbert’s performance consisted of mainly instrumental songs with the occasional gift of his Glaswegian voice accompanying his elegant Flamenco guitar playing skills. Between songs Hubbert was not afraid to tell personal anecdotes, jokes and even share his personality with the crowd, confessing that he is ordinarily better expressing himself through his guitar, rather than words. To finish his set, Hubbert invited Moffat on stage to accompany his guitar riffs with his compelling storytelling skills as the two performed ‘Car Song’, track three on his newest record ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’.
With no need for introduction Moffat and Wells appeared on stage along side the band and with a simple “Hello” and began to play. Audience/performer boundaries were immediately knocked down as Moffat brought the first song to a halt to admit he had to clear the frog in his throat and jested that he’d ruined the show already to fellow band members on stage. Picking up roughly from where they left off, ‘Let’s Stop Here’ was played, this time without interruption. From there on in, song after song offered compelling honest lyrics with tracks such as ‘Ballard of the B**tard’ telling the tale of a “self-styled lady killer” being caught committing adultery.
With a his distinct Glaswegian accent Aidan fearlessly addressed adult topics from drug use, love and relationships, to ‘the machine’ through ingeniously vulgar and witty lyrics, accompanied by a sophisticated backing from Bill Well’s on piano and band members on trumpet and double bass. A particular highlight of the evening rested upon the performance of song ‘Dinner Time’. Telling the tale of returning to a former house the song built theatrical tension with dramatic piano playing and many crashes on the symbol as “the keys work fine, they haven’t even changed the locks” before revealing a well tailored anti-climaxic ending with the lyric “Have you had your dinner?”.
With no hint of irony, an unexpected cover of Bananarama’s ‘Cruel Summer’ was performed. The version forcefully avoided any cheesy pop cover gimmick that the audience may have expected for a second or two and instead placed focus on the earnest lyrics of the song, fitting right in with the rest of the evening. After playing ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ and capturing the audiences attention with it’s thought provoking lyrics, Aidan reinforced it’s message by leaning into the microphone and uttering the statement ‘Remember we invented love and it’s the greatest story ever told’ and the stage was emptied.
Upon much applaud the four returned to the stage and perform ‘Man of Cloth’ and ‘Box It Up’ from E.P. ‘Cruel Summer’. ‘Man Of Cloth’ contained lyrics of a highly comical nature as Moffat speaks of attending a Halloween party dressed in genuine Vicar attire and it proving successful with the ladies. Juxtaposing this comical nature ‘Box It Up’ had a more melancholic vibe as Moffat’s story-telling talents addressed the issue of a relationship breakup with reference to memories both fond and indifferent. For the last two songs only Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat remained on stage to play out the audience with ‘And So We Must Rest’, also the last track on the record, much fitting to summarise the night’s ‘everything will be ok’ message.