Hamell on Trial

Another Celtic Connections is upon me and one of the required viewing gems is Mr Hamell of Hamell on Trial playing at Glasgow Oran Mor. I wasn’t quite sure of the set-up as Celtic Connections tends to throw a few curveballs each year* to fuck your expectations up a little. For a festival that brings together folk, country and world music genres to the fore, I always seem to end up at a punk gig** and tonight was no different…

Upon entering the venue support act Lach was already on stage*** regaling the audience with twitchy folk rock goodies. Looking like a cross between Christopher Lloyd and Elvis Costello****, he was treating the sparse crowd to some jokes and banter which wasn’t fully connecting with the audience. This seemed more than apparent to the man himself thus audience interaction was shunned for the next few numbers. However, as the venue began to fill up with late arrivals, Lach was greeted with a friendlier and louder response – a highlight being his shout out to the Kiss army*****. Sadly as Lach was hitting his stride and audience appreciation grew, time was up.

Strolling onstage to rapturous applause looking like the bastard son of Fu Manchu if he had made a cultural visit to Syracuse, New York, came Hamell on Trial. Opening with ‘Glad You’re Gone’ and continuing on for a couple of numbers before we were promised by Mr Hamell himself that there would be no jokes or stories, instead we would be treated to an evening of interpretive dance with the finale involving the sight of our main act in a thong******. Mr Hamell is not a man to keep his promises…Continuing on, we were diverted with an ode to Mr Hamell’s 1937 acoustic guitar, which by the man’s own admission he wields like a Tommy gun, which I can confirm is the truth.

Hamell has always seemed to me to be an artist who moves with the times, not particularly his style of music, but in terms of mood and feeling. He provides a document of what the collective are feeling and offering possible solutions that only a man who has lived his life according to punk rock can. Hence a lot of this evenings set list focused on highlighting tracks from his new album ‘The Happiest Man in the World’*******.  After the midpoint in the set the audience were treated to a double whammy on the effect of the economic recession on the working person. ‘Jennifer’s Stripping Again’, explaining the measures people will take to keep things going. This was followed by ‘Richards Got a Job’; displaying some hope and that if people keep trying things might be alright.

The rather diverse characters******** in attendance lapped it all up, especially when the floor was open to requests. I am surprised he was able to make any of it out due to the barrage of ineligible cries*********. Obeying those that he could comprehend & finishing the evening with two tracks from his beloved album ‘Choochtown’ (When Bobby Comes Down and Choochtown) left things on a really fucking high note. Not exactly a Celtic evening but Hamell on Trial made a connection with everyone who turned out.

*Or the Scottish equivalent of that saying.

**Hey, I am not closed minded, kay!

***At 7.35pm you can’t say Celtic Connections aren’t prompt.

****If they both went into that machine in Cronenbergs ‘The Fly’.

*****Kiss rules Motherfucker!

******Say what you will, I would clearly have remembered it.

*******It’s pretty tidy.

********Dead Kennedy beanie hatted gents next to those in full tweed suits.

*********I did shout for Coulter’s Snatch, but was denied… yes it is a song.

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