Dick Gaughan

‘The songs I write are love songs and their love’s a different kind,’ Dick Gaughan sings to us. A self-professed ‘grumpy old bastard’, he insists that even his saddest, angriest, most discontented pieces are meant to make people happy. He describes songs as the best outlet of opinions and retorts to arguments, ‘you’ll have the last word forever more’, and it certainly seems that his music is affecting and enduring.

In a packed out Big Room at St Brides, Gaughan rattled through a variety of songs, some his own, some co-written and many with lyrics provided by his long term collaborator ‘Trad.’ he told us wryly. The songs were enjoyable, with the lyrical content often particularly poignant and powerful. Gaughan’s voice rarely let up at any point in his songs, but carried on in its Scottish-Richard-Thompson style. This made the hour and twenty minute performance all the more impressive, but occasionally a bit unrelenting. The guitar lines were very simple and, incidentally, not always entirely in time with Gaughan’s vocals, but it might have been nice to hear the odd instrumental interlude amidst the disgruntlement and folklore.

The set featured a Robert Burns poem set, very beautifully, to music and a particular highlight in a cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Apache Tears’, which was fuelled with just as much sadness as the blighted tales from closer to home. Home ground was conclusively covered too, not least with a selection of Gaughan’s many political musings. In a very concise and analogy, he decided that, like most bickering couples, England and Scotland would get on much better after a divorce. He was not prepared to be labelled as a support of one party over another, however. By now a considerable amount of time had passed since the last song, but everything Gaughan told us, whether sung or stated or otherwise, provided a further insight into his beliefs. It is arguably the strength of these beliefs that have earned Gaughan his renown and there can be no doubt that his fans relish the conviction with which he sings them, says them and plays them loud and clear.

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Performances

The Blurb

The only performer to hold the honours of a Lifetime Achievement award by BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and induction into the Scots Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Gaughan returns for his annual hometown solo Fringe appearance. www.stoneyport.co.uk.

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