Not just Texas-fried turkey Desperado comes to town Not just Southern- fried Warmth for a stranger in town

FOLK Guy Clark Elmwood Hall, Belfast

Guy Clark started life in a one-horse town in west Texas and, kicking off with the still definitive Old No 1 in 1975, has thus far slipped out a taut eight albums in 21 years. This, combined with a fine line in Clint Eastwood-like "man-with-no-name" demeanour, amounts to a text-book approach to forging and maintaining a certain kind of songwriting reputation. A legion of better-known artists such asNanci Griffith, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill and Lyle Lovett have feted Clark's name, guested on his albums on something close to rent-a-devotee numbers and covered his material for years. Yet the man seems doomed to play out the role of quintessential cult figure.

And a role it is, for while fellow Lone Star legend Townes Van Zandt just had to turn up (in body if not in mind) at this venue a year ago to generate an electric atmosphere, Clark had to work on stage. He obligingly donned the porous raincoat of his "living legend" status - however ridiculous it must seem to him on a day-to-day basis - and harmlessly fortified it with wry witticisms, body language and a little gentle sparring with the audience. Where Van Zandt is a genuine wild card, a vacationing-on- Venus maverick, Clark is simply a better-than-average craftsman who never shoved his way around Nashville and always called himself a folk-singer anyway.

Whatever his generic preference, Clark proved himself a good entertainer, eliciting a warm response in a cavernous, charisma-sapping auditorium, largely used for Ulster Orchestra rehearsals. "Feels like a church in here," he mused. "Nobody throwin' stuff..."

Accompanied by his son Travis, whose superb, melodic work on the fretless bass added welcome textural depth to essentially simple chord progressions, Clark encouraged requests and got them by the bagful. His guitar playing was rudimentary and his actual guitar sound quite horrible, but when it all connected with top-drawer material, the results were transcendent. His charged performance of debut-album perennials "Desperado Waiting for a Train" and "Let Him Roll" left their more polished interpretations standing. Alternating between Woody Guthrie-esque "talking" ballads such as the truly heart-breaking "Randall Knife" (about his own late father and the process of grief) and more lightweight-sounding numbers in the swinging, Jerry Jeff Walker idiom, there was a combination of terrific quality and the odd turkey ("Homegrown Tomatoes", anyone?) in both.

Two songs from his recent Dublin Blues album - "Stuff That Works" and "The Cape", a song about trying to fly as a child and progressing to the leaps of faith necessary for self-belief and betterment in later life - were disguised in throwaway tunes and constructed from disarmingly banal couplets, but they illustrated beautifully the nature of Clark's particular brand of genius.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy