Willard Grant Conspiracy - Stirling Tolbooth
With a wild beard that would make any Amish farmer jealous, Fisher, WGC's frontman, resembles an old-style university lecturer (probably computer science) ready to share his knowledge with us. Funnily enough, that's exactly what he goes on to do, telling us what to expect from tonight's concert ("lots of songs about death or mortality - whichever we prefer") and does his best to create a dialogue with the half-empty theatre.
The worringly somber Tolbooth - a stone's throw from Stirling Castle - seems like a perfect environment for Willard Grant Conspiracy to perform as Fisher has also noticed, reminding us of the haunted nature for the place until recent times - when the two bodies of the defunct were found and when properly buried, the ghosts left the building. WGC seem however intent on conjuring up some more for our perusal by launching into the mournful River In The Pines and a series of other tracks from their superb latest album Regard The End. Robert Fisher's voice - a powerful baritone, oft compared to Nick Cave but far more impressive - starts conjuring up tales of loss and broken relationships, mortality and sorrow...
The band, infamously comprising 30 members, is this time limited to just six musicians including a pianist and a violinist. Though the general tempo tends to be rather downbeat, there is a certain element of hope that seems to transcend from the whole. Like the snake handling preacher from The Trials Of Harrison Hayes who catches a glimpse of heaven with his dabbling with death, Fisher is unafraid to look at the ground slowly ebbing away beneath our feet and wonder what this all adds up to.