Oran Mor, 28/01
Hailing from Los Angeles, this is the first time rock & roll four piece The Americans have played Glasgow. In spite of only releasing their first album in 2016, they already boast an undoubtedly impressive track record – they have performed on the Late Show with David Letterman and have joined the likes of Ryan Bingham, Nick Cave, Tim Robbins, and Lucinda Williams on tour, as well as featuring on film soundtracks and TV specials and even playing the first dance at Reese Witherspoon’s wedding.
Kicking off the night are acoustic duo Taylor & Leigh. Heather Leigh’s soulful, powerful voice is mesmerising, whilst Alex Leigh’s guitar skills are masterful. Combined with poignant lyrics and a hushed silence across the venue, the band’s country blues set is almost hypnotic. The pair break this angelic façade between songs, laughing with the audience and telling jokes or anecdotes – an experience which is rare at most gigs, but refreshingly relaxed and intimate. These are clearly expert musicians, who are confident with each other and with a crowd.
All clad in classic blue jeans, with quiffs, double denim and plaid shirts aplenty, the band members of The Americans look exactly as you’d expect them to. The gig itself is a thoroughly enjoyable mix of upbeat rock & roll tunes and slower, more contemporary songs. But with lead singer Patrick Ferris’ husky, bluesy vocals, and rockabilly guitar from himself and banjo from Zac Sokolow, it is clear that the band’s music is rooted in traditional American styles. Songs with titles like ‘Prison Yard Walk’, ‘Long Way from Home’ and ‘Gospel Roads’ dominate the set, conjuring images of dusty highways and worn out churches. From a UK perspective, the band seem to encompass every imagining of Americana culture, with a modern twist.
Overall, this was a fun, unique experience that Glasgow gig-goers maybe wouldn’t usually expect to come across in the basement of the Oran Mor. But I suppose that is the whole point of Celtic Connections – bringing together diverse global musicians and artists that we perhaps might not otherwise engage with.
[Katie Fannin – @katfnan]