Thursday, 25 April 2013

Edwyn Collins @ O2 ABC, 18th April

When Edwyn Collins walks onstage, the lights are still up and background music continues to play quietly through the PA. Yet his supporting cane casts a distinct silhouette, and even those far from the front clock his presence immediately – and (to paraphrase a line from Edwyn himself) what presence it is.

“Are you ready to rock and roll?” he asks, perched on an amp and smiling broadly. The answer is affirmative, and a marvellous career-wide retrospective set commences, reaching from Orange Juice cuts through to latest recordUnderstated.

The latter is his third album since 2005’s life-threatening brain haemorrhages, and though his speech remains hesitant, Collins chats and jokes regularly between songs tonight. His singing voice, meanwhile, is positively strident, his smooth baritone feeding the audience both hits and should-have-been-hits, from a warmly rendered Ghost of a Chance to a funky Rip It Up (“30 years – imagine that!”).

Midway through, Edwyn’s son William joins the band, supplying backing vocals for Too Bad and subbing for The Drums on In Your Eyes – a touching family moment amidst the indie-soul anthems. With Blue Boy and Don’t Shilly Shally rounding out the set, tonight is affirmation of both Collins’ stellar career to date, and his on-going capacity to impress.

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