Dick Gaughan - Leith Folk Club, Edinburgh, Tue 7 Jan 2014 (4 stars)

Dick Gaughan - Leith Folk Club, Edinburgh, Tue 7 Jan 2014

Photo: Sally Greenberg

Refreshing candour at gig from ever-political singer-songwriter and guitarist

‘You thought you were getting away without me mentioning it, eh?’ enquired Dick Gaughan with an impudent growl midway through the second half of his now-traditional New Year show a couple of streets from his childhood home. ‘It’ was, perhaps inevitably, this year’s Scottish independence referendum, but although the ever-political Gaughan left us in no doubt as to his leaning – he’s a ‘Yes’ man – the message he had to impart was an even-handed one. Remember, he said, the point is that you’re not voting for or against either the SNP or the English people.

Such candour is refreshing and somewhat old-fashioned these days, as popular music and politics grow further apart. The packed function room of the Victoria Park House Hotel perhaps isn’t the place you’d expect to hear it, but the 65-year-old Gaughan, alone with his guitar onstage, made the point that the fading folk club tradition has to be supported where it’s found these days. His set mixed rustic grit and cultural consciousness, from the tribute to Scottish martyr ‘Thomas Muir of Huntershill’ and the comment on independence ‘No Gods (and Precious Few Heroes)’ to his rebuttal of intolerance ‘Both Sides the Tweed’ and a closing version of Hamish Henderson’s ‘Freedom Come All Ye’.

Dick Gaughan

Gaughan plays an eclectic mix of styles and stringed instruments combining his classic orchestration skills with a love of the Scots ballad.

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