It’s the night after the Glasgow School of Art and the O2 ABC were all but destroyed by a devastating fire.
The air is heavy with the smell of smoke.
Fire crews are still dowsing the buildings in water.
Roads are closed.
Fortunately nobody has been hurt in either venue and because this is Glasgow people are just getting on with life.
No mean city indeed.
They are a hardy bunch the Glaswegians. Tough and generous of spirit in equal part. Friendly…but in a ferocious way, like Rottweilers on Ritalin.
I’m here to see Mark Morriss on his current run of solo live shows, which I have decided to christen “The Unlikeliest Venues Tour 2018”. A few nights ago I saw Mark in a tiny pub in a village that had more in common with Summers Isle than anywhere should. Tonight, he is playing in a bar/restaurant called the “Pie and Brew”…because they sell pies and brews.
It’s a nice place but it still seems like an odd venue in which to see someone like Mark Morriss. Deep in my heart I feel that he should be playing the venues that Ed Sheeran is…he’s got better songs, better hair, wittier repartee and, most importantly, he isn’t Ed Sheeran.
The world is a cruel place.
Shortly before eleven and Mark takes to the not quite stage with an apology for keeping us waiting, then delivers a beautiful and haunting rendition of “Silver Raven”. This Gene Clark song is a regular feature of his set and, while he claims that it’s a sound check tonight, it is a deeply affecting song.
With an album of covers and songs from other artists in his set it’s obvious that Morriss is just like the people in his audience…he loves music like we do. Of course, crucially, he also has a back catalogue of his own songs that would put many other artists to shame.
That desire to devour music the way that I devour Haribo when I’m watching “The Hotel Inspector” is why he’s able to craft a song like “Bluetonic”, which, even in this slightly peculiar space, still manages to bring every soul together in a riotous choir. What must it feel like to be able to stand in front of a gathering of strangers, all with worries and wobbles, and unite them and soothe them?
What is often overlooked when The Bluetones are discussed is the fact that, under the glorious melodies and the anthemic choruses, there is a maudlin heart beating in Morriss’s lyrics and that is the real key to why they are songs that matter.
Maybe it’s just me.
I’m probably a bit emotional.
It’s true. There is a sadness there. I can feel it tonight and I’m glad of its company.
That maudlin air is kicked out of the bar with a rowdy rendition of “Benny and the Jets” by Elton John that puts a smile as wide as the Clyde on every face…even mine.
As ever seeing Morriss confirms that he is a singer, a songwriter, a melody maker, a wit, a raconteur, a looker and a good egg. Quite the package.
Catch him wherever and whenever you can. You won’t be disappointed.