Roddy Frame - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
Aztec Camera main man Roddy Frame spent the tail end of last year dipping into his back catalogue, performing a critically acclaimed run of shows celebrating AC masterpiece High Land Hard Rain’s 30th anniversary. 2014 has seen Roddy put his reminiscing to one side, releasing a brand spanking new studio album, in the shape of Seven Dials, the singer’s fourth under his own name.
Mr Frame isn’t the most prolific recording artiste but a Roddy album is always worth waiting for. His new collection doesn’t quite reach the heady heights of Surf (solo album number two and his second best recording to date) but there’s plenty to enjoy, especially ‘Forty Days Of Rain’, the finest uptempo track he’s written in years and the song that kicked off his headline show at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
There were several "Dials" ditties on display down the Bush, including album opener 'White Pony', 'Into The Sun' and outstanding AOR anthem 'Postcard'. The rest of his solo output didn't get much of a look in mind you, bar a couple of tracks from The North Star: 'Reason For Living' and the always excellent (and still my favourite track from his solo career) 'Bigger, Brighter, Better'.
The remainder of the Frame Bush bash overflowed with vintage Aztec Camera classics. I've taken in more than my fair share of solo acoustic shows from the Scottish troubadour in recent years, with each set leaving me spellbound, predominately due to the singer's dazzling displays on the guitar but you forget how just at home Roddy is, backed by a band, electric strapped on and rocking out, leading to phenomenal renditions of tracks like 'Walk Out To Winter', The Crying Scene', 'Oblivious' and 'Somewhere In My Heart'.
That being said, some of my favourite moments of the show did come from the more "stripped down" material. Although it started off in the wrong key, a solo 'Killermont Street' was a real highlight, especially with the added section from 'Wild Mountain Thyme' (complete with crowd backing), with 'Mattress Of Wire' and a piano accompanied 'On The Avenue' also memorable moments.
Of course no show from Mr Frame can be complete without a bit of audience banter and there was plenty laughs to be had throughout the set as he kept the hecklers at bay, giving us the meanings behind a few songs, even though his drummer told him he shouldn't chat as his audience is getting too old to stand around for a lengthy period (Roddy has just turned 50 himself). The singer did say it felt like a Guardian Q + A at times but he was glad he was still around and it wasn't a retrospective of his career! I'm sure his audience were all in agreement as hopefully there will be plenty more music to come from Roddy in the future. Let's just hope we don't have to wait till he's 65 for his fifth solo album!