Withered Hand

Withered Hand, the stage and band name of Dan Willson, was welcomed by a ravenous crowd at the Queen’s Hall this Fringe. His melodious charm has earned him a solid fan base, whose backgrounds and age-range are refreshingly diverse. Showcasing a number of new songs from his upcoming album, he apologised for having taken four years to complete it. No apology was needed after he got going, his signature warbling voice a welcome sound, as well as the unmistakable thundering feeling that runs through these incredible new additions to his repertoire.

After support acts Second Hand Marching Band, Eugene Kelly and King Creosote (an enormous treat in his own right), we were more than warmed up for Willson, who was accompanied on stage by almost every act that had preceded him. This made for some musical chaos and major excitement in the crowd, justifying the 'ramshackle tag' Willson tells us he is trying to shake off.

He performs a good few of the old favourites, such as the thumping melody of 'Heart Heart', the pulsing and driving rhythm of 'New Dawn' and softly pacing 'Providence'. The first two turn into major stomping shout-alongs, making it no surprise to us Withered Hand newbies that last year's gig saw four fans chucked out, another even needing resuscitation in the toilets.

The main music focus does however fall upon Willson's new pieces, many of which are absolute corkers. 'The King of Hollywood' is one of his rockier ones that feels careless and throwaway, much like the edgy lyrics suggest. 'Black Tambourine' is a huge and buzzing success with the crowd. There are also much darker numbers, the standout of which has to be 'California'. It is songs like these that demonstrate best the power of Willson's trembling, soft vocals, which carry such heavy melancholy gorgeously.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

Edinburgh DIY folk-rock troubadour Dan Willson brings new look Withered Hand band to this special show, fresh from recording his long-awaited second album. Special guests Eugene Kelly, Second Hand Marching Band plus Scottish Folk Royalty! www.witheredhand.com

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