Live Review: Xylouris White, King Tut's, Glasgow, on Wed 26 Nov
Giorgos Xylouris and Jim White perform pure instrumental joy on Cretan lute and drums
Fresh outta style school, veteran virtuosos Giorgos Xylouris ('George' to his mates) and Jim White (of the Dirty Three) are a commanding and welcome presence, all big hair and smart casual. Sitting comfortably on a stage capable of holding at least five times their simple combo of Cretan lute and drums respectively, they spend the best part of two hours transporting the occupants of King Tut's familiar box room into the heart of the Mediterranean via both Brooklyn and Melbourne.
With little in the way of introduction bar a simple wave of acknowledgement and a nod of the head, the first touches of Jim White's drums and Xylouris' 'lauto' soon slowly and warmly merge into the anticipatory chatter still rippling around the room. Before long, the crowd, seemingly made largely of visitors, students and ex-pats from in and / or around Xylouris's native Greek island of Crete, are lost in a wash of sheer instrumental joy as White's increasingly frenetic yet always tasteful playing brings the rich timbre of Xylouris' legendary lauto to life in dazzling form.
As previewed on the pair's impressive debut album together, Goats, the traditional melodies and songwriting heritage of Xylouris' family and homeland are melded with open-ended improvisation fusing countless genres, styles and tempos together; the clattering wash frequently parted by unexpected 'riffs' one would rarely expect to come from such a delicate instrument. At the height of their energy they are practically shredding; Xylouris' fingers as much of a blur as White's free-flowing limbs, constantly flitting between a boundless variety of sticks and styles.
It's a genuine pleasure to watch, even more so as the venue descends into the throes of a Cretan circle pit, with half the crowd joining in for a wonderful spot of spontaneous traditional dancing that just glues everything about tonight together. This isn't just watching a band, clapping drably then fucking off into the night, this is an experience shared in great and unusual company. Both musically and socially, the night is alive with a feeling of genuine class, respect and warmth. And boy, those boys can shred.