Willard Grant Conspiracy live in Glasgow

The Scotsman

*  *  *  *  *

SHORN of the large, grey-flecked beard which was once his trademark, Willard Grant Conspiracy’s leader Robert Fisher cuts a less imposing figure these days. Where once he resembled a grizzled mountain man, now he’s simply a Bostonian barroom troubadour, although the delicate, acoustic alt-country style remains.

This was a largely homegrown performance, with Glasgow’s Doghouse Roses (electric guitarist Paul Tasker and singer Iona Macdonald) comprising two-thirds of Fisher’s backing band. Fisher met them, he told us, while recording last year’s Pilgrim Road album in Glasgow; they went for a curry with the singer, got on well and have now been inducted into the array of multinational players who make up each of WGC’s scratch touring incarnations. This particular Celtic connection was a fortuitous one, because their styles come together perfectly on the light country-rock of Mary of the Angels, the old Baptist traditional Day is Past and Gone, and the bittersweet alt-country style of Evening Mass.

So pleasingly informal was the atmosphere that Fisher dispensed with his personally disliked off-and-on-again encore pleasantries, and the fans joined in the joke by begging for more while the band remained in their seats. Notes From the Waiting Room and a version of Lady of the Snowline accompanied by wailing saw-playing were always going to follow – disarmingly personal and transcendently beautiful.

Stereo, Glasgow
– David Pollock