Monday, August 24, 2009


Well I could be tempted to complain about a gig in which the main part of the set comprised of only 11 songs. But when those songs are so exiquisite and so gently expansive it felt like time stood still whilst listening, you can’t complain at all.

In front of a packed but deeply reverential Deaf Institute audience, Bill Callahan and four piece band (cello, violin, guitar and drums) rewarded that hushed reverence with a 90 minute set drawn mainly from latest album “Sometimes I Wish We An Eagle” and 2005’s “A River Ain’t Too Much To Love”. The set-up and playing style of the band delivered surprisingly rich and faithful renditions of these songs. Like the album where most of the set came from it was hypnotic, gorgeous and graceful - and one of my musical highlights of the year.

And although tending to gentler material, Bill occasionally reminded of his darker side: the guttural growl during "Eid Ma Clack Shaw", playing "Bathysphere" (yes!) to close the main set and then the pained screams during final encore “Cold Blooded Old Times”.

I always seem to be late for Bill Callahan gigs - and a horrible eight-hour journey back from Green Man Festival (review to follow) threatened this would be no different - but I managed to reverse the trend here. Bill was very dapper tonight (skinny black trousers, pointy black shoes, white shirt with sleeves rolled up and unbuttoned to the waist) and seemed more relaxed than on previous occasions I'd seen him. He spoke little between songs but gently joked when he did and although his face appeared impassive when singing he would occasionally indulge in some tippy-toe jigs or throw in a quick side kick to suggest a less serious mood. It all ended with the great Velvets-y chug of "Cold Blooded Old Times" with extended instrumental jam and occasional yelps and screams. Just stunning. Bill Callahan: bloody genius. Please come back soon.

The Set List:
Jim Cain
Rococo Zephyr
All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast
Say Valley Maker
Rock Bottom Riser
Let Me See The Colts
Diamond Dancer
Too Many Birds
Eid Ma Clack Shaw
The Wind & The Dove
Our Anniversary
Cold Blooded Old Times

Bill Callahan
Sometimes I Wish We An Eagle [BUY]

A River Ain’t Too Much To Love [BUY]


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. Was my first BC show and an absolutely amazing experience.beautiful. Richard

The Archivist said...

Thanks Richard - totally agree. I so nearly missed this gig - and it would have killed me