Sunday, 23 October 2011

Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat

Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh
4 stars
Everything's Getting Older, an album which paired pianist Bill Wells
with former Arab Strap vocalist Aidan Moffat, is a delicate creation of
wisdom and beauty. In the flesh, Moffat's evocatively deadpan portraits
of middle-aged ennui framed by Wells' equally melancholy tinkles sound
even more heartfelt.

This could have something to do with Moffat's cold, however, which he
announces on the first night of this mini-tour with an unhealthy
sounding clearing of the throat following Tasogare, the instrumental
that opens both the album and tonight's show. Moffat is surrounded by
drums and a music stand, while a pair of dictaphones containing
recordings of rain hang on his microphone stand. As the evening
progresses, Wells' compositions lend Moffat's words a patina of
sophistication that suggests jazz as their perfect backdrop. If that
sounds a little bit lounge-core, think again, as Wells throws some
left-field abstractions into the mix on the creepy Dinner Time.

Moffat is as candid as ever, whether on the reconstituted La Ronde of
Glasgow Jubilee or delivering The Copper Top's appositely
life-affirming sentiments. Accompanied by Stevie Jones on double bass,
Robert Henderson on trumpet and new boy Michael Marshall taking over
viola duties from Aby Vulliamy, the result is a downbeat Falkirk noir,
with Moffat sounding somewhere between Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and a
Caledonian Eeyore. Beyond the album, Wells and Moffat even manage to
make a cover of Bananarama's 1980s Smash Hits favourite, Cruel Summer,
sound more like Robert Wyatt's version of Shipbuilding. Two new songs
in the encore, one of which is very dirty indeed, suggest Wells and
Moffat's double-act may be ongoing. Long may the romance continue.

The Herald, October 16th 2011

ends

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