Gig review: King Creosote at Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

King Creosote. Picture: Sean Dooley

King Creosote. Picture: Sean Dooley

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For a prolific solo artist, King Creosote’s greatest successes have been collaborative efforts.

Diamond Mine, which the Fife singer-songwriter recorded with Jon Hopkins, was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2011 and his new album, From Scotland With Love, is the soundtrack to a film that was commissioned for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

It would be reasonable to expect the silent documentary, which draws on archive material from the National Library Of Scotland and Scottish Screen Archive, to feature as part of this tour. Kenny ‘King Creosote’ Anderson takes a more downbeat approach, however, and spurns the opportunity for an audio-visual live experience.

Dedicating the first half of the set to the record’s gentle folk, it’s a low-key approach that pays off. This is largely due to his ease on stage, be that giving rambling anecdotes about being mistaken for King Crimson or breaking off new track ‘I’m A Great Believer In Threes’ to harangue someone who’s leaving their seat.

Buried within a fisherman’s jumper he’s also perfectly equipped to perform vignettes about the recent past of coastal communities. Backed by Pete Harvey on cello and Andrew ‘Captain Geeko’ Robinson on djembe, these are stories of migration (‘Miserable Strangers’), seaside holidays (‘Largs’) and nights on the lash (‘One Night Only’).

With a voice straining to hit the high notes on opening track ‘Something To Believe In’, there’s nonetheless a sweetly mournful honesty to his delivery when he sings, “You promised to be real.” It’s an affecting quality that marks the best of his older works, which often have the feel of being diary entries.

‘Leslie’ for instance, which sees him swapping an acoustic guitar for accordion, is a dolefully captured memory while ‘Doubles Underneath’ – on which support act Charlie Cunningham lends his more classical guitar playing – is a jaunty ‘disco’ number that sees him hymning Paul Simon and confiscated vinyl.

Closing with ‘Not One Bit Ashamed’ he disproves the lyric that “It’s not good enough” by delivering a set that warms the cockles and makes the audience feel like they’ve spent the evening with an old friend.

Gig date: October 11

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