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BLUE ROSE CODE, Celtic Connections, The Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow 29/1/16.



Blue Rose Code have cracked it ­– though long-term followers of man-behind-the-music, Ross Wilson, could have shared this news ages ago, and not just in the aftermath of this truly superb Celtic Connections’ headlining performance.

There is an enthralling and charming dignity behind his songs, older ones and those fresh out of the wrapper of his new album, And Lo the Bird Is On the Wing. And even when the band grows to eleven people on stage, the intimacy, warmth and joyous sense of wonder in the songs never, ever dips or wavers. The opposite happens, actually: the intensity deepens, the emotions are increasingly obvious and the enjoyment of what is being created by the ultra cool band genuinely fills the room to lift spirits and move people to get up to offer an ovation.

This was an evening of sparkling songs with a suited and booted, Ross acting as a proud musical host, immersed in his songs and delighted with the reception they all got. Little wonder he smiled as he finished each track on a faultless set list.

Pokesdown Waltz from the new album is just gorgeous with Angus J. Lyon’s delicious piano icy and definite: when Ross sang: “….and I did love you, I did” before the piano echoed the last word, it was unbelievably poignant, a moment of heartbreak and real-life break up.

Edina, from previous release, The Ballads of Peckham Rye – played in what Ross says is his fave gig city – gets better with every offering, a no holds barred look at his youthful days in Scotland’s capital city, daft memories interspersed with the dismal.

He returned to the Dear Green Place again for another new song, Glasgow Rain, which is a sumptuously jazzy four-minute concoction, where the influences of his mate, Danny Thompson and the late great, John Martyn shuffle enticingly in and out. The gig co-incided with the seventh anniversary of Martyn’s death, so we were treated to Ross’ impeccable version of Fine Lines, from 1973’s Inside Out release.

One Day At A Time, from “The Ballads…” has the tone of a romp, but the depthn of the lyrics, “Whenever I tried, I tried my hardest,” makes sure its key message is never overlooked. And as a live performer, Blue Rose Code (Ross) does, indeed, try his hardest to engage, please and downright entertain.

He has an elegance, sincerity with an arresting turn of phrase and melodies that stick in the mind. All of these delights are, surely, pushing him towards a well-merited, brighter, spotlight. And he will always be, as he sings in his own gracious song, grateful.


Image: Kenny McGhee

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