James Yorkston, Union Chapel, London

3.00

 

One of the several  rambling, funny tales James Yorkston tells tonight has him bumping into an old acquaintance he hasn't seen for years who, worried he's looking "a bit rough", enquires if he has a job these days. Yorkston, considering his wandering singer's life, allows him to think he's unemployed, just scraping by. He's offered a house-painting job, but can't make it as, dressed in the clothes that had him tagged as destitute, he's playing this gig.

Yorkston could have offered a more impressive resume. He’s the leading light of Fife’s Fence Collective, an informal community ranging from KT Tunstall to King Creosote (Mercury-nominated this year with Jon Hopkins), who over six albums has ranged from pure folk which helped start the form’s recent revival, to searching songs of his own. But that story’s extreme self-deprecation is in character. Though Yorkston is as usual entertaining company, there’s an almost painful modesty just beneath the surface, something agonised and doubting, which may help his songs’ skin-peeling sensitivity. His lyrics sometimes suggest a man who would wince if touched.

It’s been three years since the last original collection of those songs, When the Haar Rolls In. With typical forthrightness, he explains the last twenty months have been dominated by his children’s serious ill-health, the inspiration for the new “The Fire And The Flame”. There’s a jarring dischord in his acoustic guitar as he sings this sort of prayer - “Did he fly, is he well?” - and he hunches over as the applause washes over him.

Friends and collaborators soon appear, and this affable man soon brightens. “I can play it on my phone!” he realises when a duet gets off to a rocky start, and does, surely a folk music first. What follows is chamber-folk, built on warm arrangements of clarinet, violin and lovely vocal harmonies. “Tender is the Blues”, a timely song about a broken person “just losing faith in these costly times”, becomes a pensive country swoon. “Tortoise Regrets Hare”, by contrast, climaxes in a small storm of looped self-sampling. Jon Hopkins wanders on for “Woozy With Cider”, to play piano behind Yorkston’s spoken-word account of a worried man, just married, made content by his wife. It’s the best of his intimate lyrical art, and perhaps explains how he carries on.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
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.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'