Tim Barry / Cory Branan / Sam Russo - live in Glasgow (Cover Artwork)

Tim Barry / Cory Branan / Sam Russo

live in Glasgow (2015)

live show

I've seen a lot of English singer-songwriter Sam Russo recently. He has a knack for getting support slots on excellent tours, but I'm always happy to see his name on the bill. He seems to have been touring Storm forever, but he managed to keep his setlist fresh when he kicked off the evening at Audio in Glasgow on February 27th. Only two songs from that album made the cut, including "Dry Shampoo" sounding as great as ever, with the rest a mixture of tracks from various splits and Red Scare compilations and songs that will presumably show up on his next album. The luxuriant beard he sported last year was gone, but fortunately his musical powers hadn't disappeared with it. While he perhaps lacked the spark that made the other two acts of the night so watchable, I'm still expecting great things from his next full length, whenever it might materialise. He also won the "coolest merch" award for his "RUUUUUUUSSO" football scarves.

After a short break, Cory Branan hit the stage and announced "My name's Cory, I'm just gonna beat up this guitar for a while". Launching into the upbeat and pacy "The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis", he was immediately beset with sound problems. Forced to finish the song unplugged and then borrow (and verbally abuse) Sam Russo's guitar for a couple more songs, he dealt with the setback good humouredly and soon had the crowd eating out of his hand. With a set evenly weighted between 12 Songs, Mutt and last year's The No-Hit Wonder, he turned in an energetic performance. Interspersing flat out rockers like "Hell-bent and Heart-first" with slower numbers like "The Freefall" and "Tall Green Grass", there were enough changes of pace and tone to keep things interesting. The more recent songs ("Sour Mash", "Missing You Fierce", the closing "The No-Hit Wonder") are the most overtly country but none the worse for it. Branan is a fine songwriter with a plainspoken eye for detail and an ear for a catchy melody. There was one obvious omission (no "A Girl Named GO"? Denied!) from a set perhaps cut slightly short by the early technical issues, but he got the best reception I've seen for a support act in a long time, and deservedly so.

Another short break and it was time for Richmond's favourite musical son, Tim Barry. Taking the stage in a Conway Twitty t-shirt and camouflage cap, he looked every inch the punk frontman gone country. Kicking off, as usual, with fan favourite "Dog Bumped", he instantly got the crowd singing along. It's a great story-song, and neatly establishes the themes that Barry returns to time and again - family, and people down on their luck or in tough situations. A pair of tracks from his most recent album, last year's Lost & Rootless, also pick up the family theme from different angles, the melancholy "Solid Gone" depicting a desperate family situation and the autobiographical "Older and Poorer", written for his wife in lieu of an anniversary gift, a happy one. The new songs fit seamlessly into his set, which mined the entirety of his decade-long solo career, with 2006's Rivanna Junction especially well represented.

The last time I saw Barry, he was supporting Frank Turner in a 1,500 capacity venue, enjoying the challenge but looking a little lost in the relatively cavernous surroundings. Here, in this intimate club setting, he was in his element. Declaring that he felt "like a fucking zoo animal", he left the stage to set up shop in the crowd for a raucous, boozy sing-along to "Idle Idylist", later repeating the trick for "Exit Wounds". Barry's set mixed the upbeat and downbeat just as skilfully as Branan's had, with him joking after "Walk 500 Miles" that he was "getting too emo", and following up with the cheery "Older and Poorer". Later the catharsis of "Exit Wounds" gave way to the wonderfully self-deprecating "Fine Foods Market" (working title: "Making Fun of Tim Barry"), then "Church of Level Track" slowed things down before the traditional set closer "Avoiding Catatonic Surrender" got everyone singing along one last time.

After ten years with no band behind him, Barry has become a consummate solo performer. His stage banter and song intros are well worn - if you've heard his excellent live album or seen him play before, you could probably predict exactly what he's going to say and when. But, much like Chuck Ragan, there's more authenticity to his music than most of his punk-gone-solo peers. "Music should sound like escape not rent", he sings in "40 Miler", and it certainly did in Glasgow on Friday night.


Sam Russo
Nobody's Fool
Tinned Peaches
Small Town Shoes
Dream What You Want
Dry Shampoo
Forever West

Cory Branan
The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis
Hell-bent and Heart-first
Sour Mash
The Freefall
Survivor Blues
Skateland South
Missing You Fierce
Tall Green Grass
The Corner
The No-Hit Wonder

Tim Barry
Dog Bumped
No News From North
Solid Gone
40 Miler
Idle Idylist
Walk 500 Miles
Older and Poorer
This November
Wait at Milano
Exit Wounds
Fine Foods Market
Church Of Level Track
Avoiding Catatonic Surrender