It’s been more than a minute since Shakey Graves played to an audience in Glasgow. The artist from Austin, Texas was scheduled to appear at The Art School back in March of this year but the so-called “Beast From The East” snowstorm brought an early end to his tour and Scottish fans were left bereft for the time being as the show was canceled, rather than postponed. Gratefully, another tour was announced for the Autumn but in the wake of the Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building fire an alternative venue was chosen and ultimately the gig took place in SWG3’s TV Studio – the very same room Shakey Graves last played in Glasgow over two and a half years ago.
Shakey Graves is the nom de plume of Alejandro Rose-Garcia, whose reputation precedes him through a kind of cultish following. He’s far from the mainstream as far as UK music press is concerned, yet he can find a devoted audience on just about every continent. This latest tour is in support of his new record Can’t Wake Up, released in May on Dualtone and, as anyone familiar this artist will attest, it’s a vastly different sound he’s touting these days. Gone are the crunchy blues guitar riffs, raw-worn vocals, and erratic one-man-band percussion. In their place is an overall more polished, controlled production; the lilting melodies and jaunty accompaniment have a kind of soft-focus and even Rose-Garcia’s voice is pastel-toned. Lyrically the songs are as mythical and mystical as anything in the alt-folk /Americana / country blues / southern rock canon, but with an added dreaminess that elevates them from being intensely personal to universally quizzical.
How then to marry these diverse sonic themes into a cohesive live set? Well, if anyone can do it and do it convincingly, it’s Shakey Graves. Stunning support set from Pennsylvanian artist Petal precedes the main event and is tragically disregarded by sections of the audience. Not even her exquisite cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Silver Springs could grasp the attention of many but it’s nothing personal; for reasons beyond comprehension, the crowd is as distractedly chatty throughout the entire show.