Frazey Ford

Frazey Ford

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Rob Adams

Frazey Ford tells a good story about two of the Hodges brothers, part of the long-serving studio band responsible for the matchless, compact soul groove that came out of Hi Records in Memphis, arguing about a particular chord in a song.

The argument goes on and on until somebody suggests a break.

At this point Ford discovers that the argument is already 40 years old and counting and will probably never be resolved.

But it doesn't stop the brothers laying down their impeccable groove for Ford's latest album, Indian Ocean, her second away from Canadian sweethearts The Be-Good Tanyas, and it's a sound that, even in the Hodges' absence, strongly informs this first night of Ford's current UK tour.

Ford's previous album, Obadiah, had something of that Memphis quality, too, and she sounds comfortable inhabiting it as her touring band consistently hit the groove with relaxed economy. It's an attractive, lulling prospect as Obadiah songs including Bird of Paradise, with its added calypso-gospel atmosphere, and the insistent Blue Streak Mama sound of a piece with the newer, shuffling-rhythmed but bitter-worded Done and the southern church-flavoured Weather Pattern, which brought the Hodges brothers story to Ford's mind as one of them, Charles, is a minister as well as a session musician.

As a singer, Ford hits all the right notes and conveys every emotional tone necessary but good though she and her music generally sound, her sleepy enunciation can be frustrating when trying to follow the thread of a song.

It's part of her persona and I wouldn't want to change her too much, but a little more clarity wouldn't go amiss.


Citizens, Glasgow

Keith Bruce

When Pamela Carter's powerful script about the messy menage of Paul Verlaine, his wife Mathilde, and Arthur Rimbaud was first staged at Tramway in 2006, the audience were awkwardly placed voyeurs craning to peer into a physical space. Eight years later, those in the Citz studio are among the splashy bathing and bare-buttocked rutting of the performers, while as many watchers as you want are somewhere else, experiencing the show streamed live on-line, alongside the internet's countless other webcam exhibitionists.

Seeing it live, you are never less than fully aware of that, as half a dozen cameras transmit the unfolding relationship of the two poets, the positioning of the equipment revised during interludes between the long scenes. The effect is to make ticket-holders complicit in the narrative of a piece of theatre that is as bold as anything seen in the Gorbals theatre. When that involvement is acknowledged in a few minutes of strange engagement with those around the room, we all become part of the show.

As well as Carter's clever, and often very funny, dialogue, the heart of the piece is in the intense performances. James Edwyn is a genuinely dangerous Arthur from the start, while Owen Whitelaw's Paul and Jessica Hardwick's Mathilde acquire parallel power as the drama progresses. In the face of an irresistible attraction, neither man is cast as Mephistopheles.

Yet there is real-life devilry lurking off-stage with this show: it is a measure of how far off the pulse of contemporary theatre-making the decision-makers at Creative Scotland remain that director Stewart Laing's Untitled Projects company will now be wound up having failed to secure regular funding.