Way To Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake
Nick Drake’s popularity has only increased in the years following his death in 1976, and this concert, curated by Drake’s producer Joe Boyd for Celtic Connections, was one of the most anticipated of the festival programme.
The main appeal was hearing Nick Drake’s stunning melodies, and collaborator Robert Kirby’s string arrangements, played live in a spirit very close to the original. For most of the show this was the format, with Drake’s original bassist and a hero of folk in his own right, Danny Thompson on bass and well-chosen contributors including Vashti Bunyan, Green Gartside (of Scritti Politti) and Stuart Murdoch doing justice to the folk legend’s mellow vocals.
Some of the songs, including Lisa Hannigan’s stomping version of ‘Black Eyed Dog’, and American chanteuse Krystle Warren’s soulful ‘Time Has Told Me’, were evidently audience favourites. But for the Drake purist, Scott Matthews' ‘Day Is Done’ and Teddy Thompson’s ‘River Man’ were the real treats.
A few too many changes of personnel and a touch of over-sentimentality stunted the flow of an otherwise magical evening, but in the company of Drake’s brilliant songwriting, perfection felt very close by.
Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Wed 20 Jan