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Withered Hand / Jo Foster – Cupar Arts Festival, Elmwood College, Cupar – 11th October 2013

Last night’s Withered Hand show completed a very enjoyable trio of shows after the Kid Canaveral/FOUND and Strangers Almanac gigs earlier in the week.

After the intimate  setting of Castlehill Centre in midweek it was back to the main hall at Elmwood College but fortunately the turn-out this week (120+, I would estimate) meant that the hall didn’t feel nearly so cavernous.

Support came from Jo Foster but poor Jo had  to crawl from her sickbed to appear. Even just before her set she appeared to be undertaking some throat maintenance! But she was not only was battling the flu but also a self detuning guitar – early on at least. Apologetic as to the effect that her illness was having on her voice, she nevertheless persevered, and received a great reception from a very sympathetic audience.

Starting with a handful of tunes solo on her acoustic guitar she was then joined by bass and drums before shifting, for the final few songs of the set, from guitar to piano.

Her set was good to start with but, with each change of instrumentation, I enjoyed it more and more. The piano section in particular was lovely but energetic at the same time. In the end it was a really nice opener to set us up for the headliner and we did purchase a copy of her E.P.

As promised, the Withered Hand set delivered a mixture of old and new songs as Dan Willson and cohorts gave us not just a majority of the tunes from debut album ‘Good News’ but also, presumably, a good chunk of 2014’s much anticipated follow-up.

The new songs sounded just as strong as the tunes from ‘Good News’. Although many are unreleased, some have been around for a wee while as I’m fairly sure that one or two were aired as far back as shows last summer including last year’s Queen’s Hall show. Taken en masse the new tunes are probably a bit more muscular than those on the first album. The up tempo stuff like ‘Black Tambourine’ and ‘King of Hollywood’ are great but I actually think my favourites are a couple of the slower numbers – potential title track ‘New Gods’ is quite a delicate number and ‘Between True Love and Ruin’ a real slow burner.

Given that this was Fife, there was also room for a popular special guest appearance from King Creosote himself on the exuberant ‘King of Hollywood’.

‘Heart Heart’ brought the set to a fairly raucous conclusion but, inevitably, that wasn’t enough for an enthusiastic crowd who brought back firstly just Dan for a solo rendition of ‘Cornflake’ before the band joined him for the true finale ‘Religious Songs’.

It’s really been fantastic to have such great shows close to home and the week has certainly been a hit with both the MPKs (still amongst the youngest present at the all ages shows – although to MPK2’s delight, for once, he wasn’t the youngest person). Neither knew much about Withered Hand before last night (‘Heart Heart’ excepted) but the normally reserved MPK1 was even moved to describe the show afterwards as ‘good’ even though he had taken a fair bit of persuasion to come out the door with the rest of us earlier in the evening.

Withered Hand setlist:

1. Black Tambourine  2. Providence  3. I Am Nothing  4. California  5. This Is Nowhere  6. New Dawn  7. Love In The Time of Ecstasy  8. King of Hollywood  9. Horse Shoe  10. New Gods  11. Between True Love and Ruin  12. Heart Heart

Encore

13. Cornflake 14. Religious Songs

More photos from the show to follow at some point.

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