King Creosote @ The Marble Factory, Bristol, 31/01/15

king creosoteFollowing a Mercury Prize-nominated collaboration with Jon Hopkins and a new album which almost made the Top 20, King Creosote (aka Fife’s Kenny Anderson) is finally getting the recognition he deserves after nearly two decades as a recording artist. Tonight’s performance at the Marble Factory, however, is not that of a man getting carried away by his recent successes. Complete with a seven-piece backing band, the show is a celebration of community, the past and the power of music to unite the two.

Most of tonight’s material is taken from this year’s From Scotland With Love, a soundtrack album Anderson has provided to a Scottish archive film of the same name. There isn’t a film backdrop to tonight’s performance, but such is the way in which the sound of Anderson’s prickly guitar and the lilting rhythms of his backing band manages to evoke the past, grainy footage isn’t required to reinforce the point. There are some slippages ("Largs", jaunty and breathless on record, sounds a fraction under-tempo here) but these are few and far between. The album includes some of the finest music of his fifteen year career, which makes it somewhat disappointing that his set is rather front-loaded with it. One cannot help but wonder, for example, how much more powerful "Pauper’s Dough" and its grimly hopeful refrain of "rise up from the gutter you are inside" would have been as a set closer.

3 On This Island, an album surreptitiously released by Anderson one year previous to From Scotland With Love (and is subsequently damn hard to get hold of), also gets a good airing. The prolificacy of his output means that, in a time where the Internet has made everything immediately accessible, you are very likely to go to a King Creosote gig and stumble upon a gem which you had yet to encounter. Mine was "I’m a Great Believer in Threes", a charming cut from 3 On This Island about a time when Anderson broke his foot ("It’s not the Anne Frank break," he sings, referring to his mishearing when informed he had, in fact, a lisfranc break). Like the most endearing of Anderson’s song writing, it is feather-light, shrewdly comic and poignantly wistful in equal measure.

From listening to King Creosote, you would be inclined to have Kenny Anderson down as a rather sober individual. His stage manner, conversely, strikes a balance between the music’s frequently downbeat tone and a sense of joyous celebration. This is epitomised during the set closer "Miserable Strangers", during which Anderson implores us to sway along to the music, arm in arm with those around us. The joke isn’t lost on anyone but this sort of thing is in keeping with the atmosphere Anderson endeavours to create in the room throughout. It is, in many ways, a joyful performance; he pogoes on the spot to the insistent, ecstatic thrum of "For One Night Only" with a wide and unabashed grin on his face. Mercifully, King Creosote’s beautiful yet undeniably serious music doesn’t take itself too seriously.

For the encore we are treated to a raucous cover of "The Happy Song" by The Aliens, complete with a good deal more pogoing. Looking around, it seems that everyone else is smiling. In typical King Creosote fashion, Anderson alters the lyrics so that he sings, "I’m happy every day as I walk around my life, I’m happy every day even though I’m stuck in Fife." In many ways, it serves as a good mission statement for King Creosote; there is beauty in the everyday, there is beauty in celebrating this in song, and there is beauty in celebrating this with others.

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