Live Review: Will Varley, Skinny Lister

Barrowland – 13/11

Will Varley is part folk troubadour, part stand-up comedian. ‘Talking Cat Blues’ is a surreal piece that ought to be the internet’s anthem – it’s adorable and completely mad, much like the sound of Varley’s cat who considers himself something like a God singing Kanye West songs.

‘I Got This Email’ is in much the same vein, and this time our protagonist solves his own, and the UK’s, financial problems with a spam email from a prince of “some country somewhere.” But there’s damning political critique in there too, as Nick Clegg pops up, having a conversation with Varley about playing his Game Boy.

It all works exceptionally well. Varley is a naturally gifted storyteller with precise comic timing and a genuine voice, soothing enough to fit into Of Monsters and Men, while also inviting you to sit by the fire as he sets the world to rights.

Skinny Lister are much more bombastic, replacing Varley’s intimacy with bombast and knees-up dancing. They fall somewhere between English folk-punk and old time seashanties. ‘Raise a Wreck’ is a repetitive crescendo that builds and builds, complete with stomping bass and easy to learn lyrics for the first-timers to join in.

‘Seventeen Summers’ is a chance to get your dancing shoes on, with its waltz feel and comparatively delicate sound. For the most part though, their set is a high energy one, with crowd surfing, climbing stage props, and lots of manic enthusiasm. Their thick accent faces no hostility in Glasgow and everyone gets into the English spirit and dances right along with them.

There’s a lack of diversity between most of the tracks, but tunes such as ‘Rollin’ Over’ are so toe-tappingly fantastic that a whole set of this is exactly what a Glasgow crowd wants on a Friday night. Plus, AC/DC built their career off playing one song over and over, and they did okay. A fun and high-spirited night all round.

[Scott Wilson – @HeartofFire]

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