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Roddy Frame/Kazimier

John D Hodgkinson watches The ex Aztec Camera frontman, Back on Board with a sell-out

Written by . Published on October 18th 2011.

Roddy Frame/Kazimier

Picture borrowed with thanks from Byrdseyeview on Flikr

SUPPORT act James Welbourne has something of a reputation as a session guitarist, playing with, among others, The Pretenders, The Pogues and even Jerry Lee Lewis. Not a bad CV for someone in his twenties. Signed to Heavenly Records, he now has an EP out called Drugs and Money, with an album, The Hill, due to follow soon. On this evidence, his blend of folk/country/Americana will be well worth a listen.

Can it really be 30 years since Aztec Camera’s Just Like Gold shimmered into our lives?

They understand him; he understands
how it feels to be in love, out of love,
looking for love. He knows the importance
of the elements, the crashing of waves
on the sea, the romance of a perfect sunset

Written by a precocious 16 years old Roddy Frame, it heralded the blossoming of one of the truly outstanding song writing talents of our time. Since the demise of Aztec Camera, Frame has added to his impressive output as a solo artist, although not by any stretch of the imagination can he be called prolific. Apart from a couple of self-released solo live CDs, there has been nothing new since the 2006 album, Western Skies, whose title track, co-written with one Robert John Gorham, aka Rob Da Bank, is played here.

Frame is touring with a band for the first time in ten years and The Kazimier seems like the perfect venue for him.

The gig had been sold out for weeks, every inch of floor, every step, every space on the balcony was filled by the time he came on to a truly rapturous reception.

Most of the audience look as if they have been with him for every one of those thirty years and he does seem genuinely moved by the welcome. The grin didn’t leave his face for the whole set; not looking a great deal different from his early days and still having something of the cheeky-arsed teenaged swagger about him.

When the cheering reaches the peak of one of its many crescendos, Roddy remarks: “I know nothing about football... is this what it is like to be a footballer?”

A little later, halfway through his paen to Glasgow, Killermont Street, as the crowd sing back to him note and word perfect, he remarks “Being a footballer couldn’t possibly be this good!” 

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Frame still retains a youthful enthusiasm and idealism, still the dreamer, still the bottle merchant overdosed on Keats, still on fire. There must be a portrait ageing rapidly in the Frame loft at home. He takes us all with him; his emotional journey over 30 years will have been much the same as ours and he articulates them perfectly on our behalf, better than we could ever articulate them for ourselves.

Starting with The Crying Scene from the Stray album, Frame draws from his whole oeuvre from Mattress Of Wire, the second Aztec Camera single on Postcard Records, to the one brand new song he played, White Pony, a song inspired by the films of the late John Hughes.  Based on the story of how Hughes took a young female fan, who had written to him, under his wing, it’s an archetypal Roddy Frame song. The melody soars and tumbles and the lyrics fit together like a complicated jigsaw. “I may write another one next year,” he quips.

Such is the familiarity of the audience with Frame’s songs, all it takes is the single opening chord from Walk Out To Winter for them to pick up the song and sing along.  They’ve been with him for most of his career so far and see no reason to give up on him now, or at any other time. They understand him; he understands how it feels to be in love, out of love, looking for love. He knows the importance of the elements, the crashing of waves on the sea, the romance of a perfect sunset.

High Land Hard Rain is well represented here, We Could Send Letters is still capable of cracking a fragile heart at ten paces, Oblivious, euphoric and optimistic and full of reasons to carry on.

As an encore, Frame comes back on his own with an acoustic guitar; we are treated to  an impressive clutch of solo numbers, including album closers like Down The Dip and Birth Of The True.  How Men Are plaintively acknowledges the cruelty of love: “Why should it take the tears of a woman to see how men are? “

He brings his outstanding band back on to finish with the visceral pop thrills of Somewhere In My Heart, during which he again shows what an outstanding guitarist he is, a fact that can often be overlooked. The melody takes flight; the chorus follows in its wake.

Roddy Frame leaves the stage with expressing his gratitude for such an ovation, the crowd disperse, shuffle out into Wolstenholme Square in the hope that the boy wonder will wonder their way again soon.



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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Will NevilleOctober 18th 2011.

It was indeed fantastic!

AnonymousOctober 28th 2011.

Popular consensus, John, is that Mattress of Wire wasn't played.

1 Response: Reply To This...
John HodgkinsonOctober 28th 2011.

If that is so, then I apologise 'anonymous'. It was an overwhelming night and maybe my brain was playing tricks, I do make mistakes sometimes. I also put my name to them!
Take care

AnonymousNovember 2nd 2011.

Why did you remove my comment about Mattress of Wire? Everyone i know who was there said it wans't played. Why not correct the article?

1 Response: Reply To This...
EditorialNovember 11th 2011.

We didn't, anonymous, it's still there

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