They have clear talent, even if at times, it’s a little frustrating.
Gore opens the show with Far Amerikay, a song about Celtic people emigrating from Scotland and Ireland due to poverty. It’s a gripping start. Gore’s voice is like a force of nature, so powerful that it rings around the small room without the aid of a microphone – it’s a rare and powerful instrument and for me, Gore’s voice was the highlight of the set.
The set moves on to Come Join the Forty-Five, a reference to the 45% of Scottish people that voted for independence. It’s a good song, and Gore’s voice carries it through, but it’s here that Gone Native’s songwriting begins to fall into the protest-singer’s trap. The song opens with the line “We stand proud, our conscience clear”, and goes on to denigrate the ‘lies’ and ‘propaganda’ perpetrated by the Remain campaign, and swallowed by those who voted for them.
Now, perhaps I’m not in the best position to comment on music like this. I’m English and I couldn’t vote in the Scottish referendum. However, I have a lot of sympathy for those who voted for independence. But this song (and the other two in the set on the same topic) are aimed directly at the half of Scotland that disagree with Gore and Nicholson and, basically, I wished the songs had been more convincing. Music has no obligation to be balanced, of course, and many of Gone Native’s songs are just cathartic. But calling those who disagree with you “sheep” and “liars” obviously won’t convince those you’re singing at. Again – there is definitely a place for music like this, but insofar as these songs are meant to be a political tool, I can’t see how they can be a useful one.
The rise of the right-wing across Britain is scary, but above all it’s complicated. It is frustrating to see left-wing music like this only reach for the low-hanging fruit of accusing the right of racism and xenophobia. Much of the time these accusations are accurate, but they don’t explain the whole story.
I’ve focused on Gone Native’s politics because they seem to see their music as marked by its “social commentary”. If you’re unsure about the politics then I’m not sure if this show is for you. If you’re comfortable with the environment Gone Native create (and I, for the most part, was), then you’ll enjoy their playing. They have clear talent, even if at times, it’s a little frustrating.