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Bill Callahan at Stereo, Glasgow, Scotland, August 24th, 2009

Sep 11, 2009 Web Exclusive Photography by Pasquale Iannone Bookmark and Share

It’s a damp, humid Sunday evening and tucked away in a cobbled lane at the heart of Glasgow’s city centre, Stereo is the venue for the only Scottish date on Bill Callahan’s European tour. He’s promoting his latest release, Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle, his second without his famous sobriquet.

The last time I attended a gig at Stereo, Damien Jurado played a wonderful set to a small, yet enthusiastic crowd. This time around, the basement is completely full. A young couple wriggle their way to the front, others ready their cameras and iPhones, layers of clothing are removed, beers are guzzled: it gets warmer by the minute.

Opening the evening’s proceedings with a pleasant acoustic set is Sophia Knapp, singer and guitarist with Lights, Callahan’s label mates at Drag City. Callahan takes to the stage with his Gibson Les Paul together with drummer Luis Martinez, guitarist Jaime Zuverza, bassist/cellist Kris Youmans and violinist Andra Kulans. The band open with “Jim Cain,” the opening track on the new record and Callahan’s tribute to legendary pulp novelist James M. Cain before launching into the extraordinary “All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast”another from Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle and surely one of the tracks of the year.

Whilst not as resolutely monosyllabic as the likes of Mark Lanegan, Callahan is not one for banter between songs. Once the applause dies down he thanks the crowd, waits for Youmans to fetch a replacement bow, sips some water and launches into the next number. Most of the songs on Eagle get an airing as well as several from 2007’s Woke On A Whaleheart including the wonderful “Diamond Dancer” (“She danced so hard/She danced herself into a diamond”). Other highlights include the beautiful “Our Anniversary” from 2003’s Supper.

Author rating: 7/10


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