For a man whose peaceful soul seems woven into an Arran sweater, King Creosote has been dropping a lot of bombshells lately. For a start, there’s his fourth album proper, which his record label hoped would be his mainstream breakthrough. Reclusive homebody of the Scottish folk scene that gave rise to KT Tunstall – just plain “Kate” to Kenny Anderson, when she did backing vocals for his bluegrass band, Skuobhie Dubh (“Scoobie Doo”) – his two previous LPs, Rocket DIY and KC Rules OK, netted much critical acclaim. Would his boat now come in with sales?
Not so far, it hasn’t. Peaking at number 98, Bombshell sank faster than a depth charge. But if more people choose not to be fishers of songwriting of Anderson’s quality, more fool them. An appreciative, if talkative, crowd saw him in full flow last Thursday, sporting a Skuobhie Dubh T-shirt like a badge of honour. Naturally self-deprecating, Anderson appears comfortable with being ignored by the many and cherished by the few. This tour, however, has had fire in its belly.
After a solo acoustic “And the Racket They Made”, the next bombshell was the splendid racket that Anderson’s band made. Splenetic bursts of Neil Young-like guitar from The Pictish Trail (aka Johnny Lynch) took hitherto reflective folk-songs, old and new, to a raucous new level. “You’ve No Clue Do You”, the recent Fleetwood Mac homage of a single, was propelled by an almost punk-funk bassline – another little bombshell. Even an accordion-led track, “Home Is a Sentence”, ultimately rocked out.
The encore began with a hush-inducing “Admiral” – “I’m the admiral of nothing at all”, Anderson sang, with keening humility – before the band rejoined him for “Now Drop Your Bombshell”. Here the surprise was that its “secrets of a sensitive nature” were turned into howling shards of Radiohead-like anguish, not mere melancholy. To close, the fourpiece rumbled boisterously through “The Happy Song”, a clinically shouty track by Kenny’s brother Gordon’s outfit, The Aliens.
Earlier, when describing how the band got to the venue, Anderson had joked that the drummer had “fought his way in”, quipping “he’s from Falkirk, that’s all he knows”. The singer must have been taking notes.