|Label:||Exile On Mainstream Records|
Scott 'Wino' Weinrich’s distinctive vocal delivery has been central to a myriad of some of the most well known and highly regarded of the doom genre; Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan and Shrinebuilder in addition to his own solo offerings. Comparatively, German singer songwriter Conny Ochs is a virtual novice. Not that it shows tonight.
To paraphrase dialogue aimed at Wino from the documentary ‘Such Hawks Such Hounds’, "If anyone deserved to be a rock star it’d be that guy." If he has missed that boat, Conny Ochs is being prepped to board at the next available port. As part of a low-key European tour in support of the recently released collaborative album, ‘Heavy Kingdom’, Scott Weinrich and Conny Ochs find themselves in the sparsely- populated Bannerman’s, a venue comprising a stone archway decorated floor to ceiling with old 12” vinyl records and obligatory tour posters.
In terms of visual impact, they truly are an odd looking couple; Wino the battle worn elder statesman, fully prepared to pass the torch to his understudy with his youthful exuberance and unassuming sexuality. Drawing heavily from ‘Heavy Kingdom’, the set also incorporates material from their respective solo albums; opener ‘Somewhere Nowhere’ is a perfect introduction to their weathered yet warm acoustic sound, and thankfully the duo have found a way to shape the frankly redundant and unnecessary ‘Labour Of Love’ into a more apt song, in line with the rest of the album. Seamless transitions in to further tracks from the new record ensue, and the sound is perfect. Occasional dives into respective back catalogues help break the cycle, and bring freshness to the performance.
The decidedly upbeat yet bluesy ‘Angels and Demons’, lifted from Ochs' ‘Raw Love Songs’ introduces some inspired bass drum. ‘Old and Alone’, a song littered with bitterness and disappointment, is gleaned from Weinrich’s latest, ‘Adrift’, written after a distinctly unpleasant divorce; the ultimate two fingers up to the ex-wife or perhaps a long hard look in the mirror. The duo also let loose a brand new song, ‘Crystal’ which develops into a true standout of the evening; ingrained with outlaw country inflections, Wino leading the song, immediately bringing to mind Townes Van Zandt.
There is playfulness in their performance, with both Weinrich and Ochs encouraging each other to take the lead, front and centre. Both artists clearly are very comfortable performing together and have developed great onstage chemistry. A huge rendition of ’Vultures by the Vines’ closes the main set, and in a parallel universe this would be a million-seller. There are fleeting moments throughout where it seems that Weinrich has forgotten he is in a basement bar in Edinburgh in front of 40 loyal fans; routinely holding court like he's fronting The Obsessed at an unpronounceable European festival.
The small yet devoted turnout beg for more, with the expected chants of 'ONE MORE SONG!'; always amusing, but funnier at Sunn O))) years ago. I digress. If the artists never leave the stage, does it still count as an encore? Regardless of semantics, following a brief rest on the speakers and fresh drinks, they take to the stage again for a number of cover versions: a visceral, stripped down version of ‘Isolation’ by Joy Division, with shared vocal duties, followed quickly by a short rendition of ‘Find the Cost of Freedom’ by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
There's a heartfelt tribute to now deceased Texas-based musician Chris Whitley, followed by their own interpretation of his song ‘Dirt Floor’, before Weinrich again takes centre stage with a song he apparently wrote when he was 15 years old: ‘I Don’t Care’. Included on recent acoustic solo album, ‘Adrift’, the live version is pure outlaw country, and is the definitive foot-stomping finale.
The live setting allows these two artists to breathe new life into a few songs which at times feel out of place on the record. Both are clearly confident in their creative relationship and their own ability, with Conny Ochs even making sound use of the cello bow on a few numbers. Throughout the show, I can’t help myself from looking at the quote on the partially-covered poster advertising Jim Beam above the stage: ’I could talk about heritage for hours.’ But I won’t. This was simply a great, stripped-down performance, showcasing both artists at their finest.
Posted: Thu 22 March 2012