It’s been a long time coming for Kenny Anderson, some fifty odd albums deep into his career. Tonight's gig (27th January) at the Old Fruit Market in Glasgow has a celebratory feel about it, as he arrives as one of the leading acts at this year’s Celtic Connections festival.
He snaps a photo of himself and his band on stage at the end of the show, with the several thousand crowd – including one man in a fetching, Trainspotting style, ‘Choose Fife’ t-shirt - in the background. It’ll be a memento of just how far he's come and judging from his on-stage demeanour, he certainly seems very happy to be here tonight. An important factor that the show - on one of his largest stages to date - evidences tonight, is that the King Creosote experience still might be a little more at home in the intimate music halls of the smaller towns - but that's no bad thing.
Not that I was there, but I have it on good authority from a born-and-bred Fifer that a recent King Creosote set in Dunfermline bookended a raffle, with it drawn approximately half way through. It was “the most Fife gig ever” I’m told and it’s this kind of town and country quirk that lends itself to King Creosote’s music. Folk music might more commonly evoke descriptions of over-heartfelt, twee these days after it was kidknapped by London city dwellers, Mumford & Sons and the like. However, a more traditional definition of folk music would be to consider it ‘the music of the people’ and it‘s within this description where King Creosote's music nestles - set amongst the most unpretentious, unstylised and down-to-earth.
Unfortunately for me and like many others, I am a latecomer to the music of King Kenny. Choose Fife? I chose not to choose Fife; I chose something else and moved to London, as lots of us from the provincial towns around Britain do. As I left my rural Scottish town and went in search of a more exotic scene, I’m ashamed to say I was blind to the rich culture that was available in my own back yard. It’s only in the wake of a Mercury Music Prize nomination and providing the Soundtrack to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games film, “From Scotland With Love” that Anderson has found his way into our collective attentions. And praise be to Domino Recordings for sticking with their man and his talent throughout his career.
So Fife, what’s it all about? Radio presenter Vic Galloway could explain this much better and pick up his book, Songs In The Key Of Fife should you want to delve into his firsthand experience of this talented artistic collective. In short however, Galloway, Anderson, (past member of and now film director) John Maclean and the rest of The Beta Band, Django Django, KT Tunstall, James Yorkston and more intertwine in the East Neuk of Fife, like some kind of media equilibrium to the dreaded Chipping Norton Set.
Just as it is in Fife, community is important on stage tonight. Kenny introduces us to each band member, to show they’re appreciated. This is reflected musically too, as violin, cello, keys, guitar, harp and bagpipes – the later referred to throughout the show as “the secret weapon” – all take turns to lead the songs. King Kenny tells us he loves this band and we wholeheartedly believe him.
In embracing his surroundings and culture, King Creosote is creating the most genuine and honest music. He is writing the songs that only he can and it might have taken a little while for us to catch on but he is beginning to get the plaudits he deserves. Yours, from Scotland, with love.