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Dick Gaughan

The Live Room, Caroline Club, Saltaire
Sunday 12 July 2015

A welcome return to Saltaire for veteran Leith troubadour Dick Gaughan. Dick being one of The Live Room's first  guests back in June 2012. Over two sets Dick delivered a set list of many old favourites. Songs of philosophical, political and sociological commentary, written by himself, Robbie Burns, Johnny Cash and others. It's not often that many folk artists dedicate songs to George Gideon Osborne but that was the case with Shipwreck, the second song performed. The statement "The great only look  great because we are on our knees" possibly indicates the politics of the song. First was Keep Looking at the Light, written about the last Miners strike. The voice might not have been as strong as in the past but the strength, quality and conviction of  the songs still came through loud and clear.  

The introductions to the songs were generally lengthy, giving a detailed background to the songs history and giving Scottish and Irish history lessons at the same time. Sandwiched between the songs Dick played the instrumental Slievenamon (Mountain of the Women), a traditional Irish lament more often performed on fiddle. Why Old Men Cry commented on the similarity on the looks of the faces of old miners who had their industry taken away and WW1 veterans. This song initially having been written after a visit to the graveyards at Ypres but finished when seeing the devastation the loss of an industry and a way of life caused. Dick finished the first set with his own song A Different Kind of Love Song.

More strong political commentary including the very powerful Whatever Happened, a biting commentary on how the 60's/70's generation lost their way and less contemporary but just as relevant Both Sides The Tweed. Dick's favourite Burns song Now Westlin' Winds took us more into nature and its beauty. Two songs segued together about the injustices suffered by native Americans led to the encore, Johnny Cash's Apache Tears and Dick's own Geronimo's Cadillac with  great audience participation. Dick finished the evening with in his words "the most optimistic song I know", Ewan MacColl's The Fathers Song. Dick left the stage to great applause, many pausing to thank the great man on their way out.

Keith Belcher
Northern Sky