As King Creosote, Anderson formed East Fife's Fence Collective and has released 20-odd albums of lo-fi folk pop, the last two of which cemented his reputation as an emotive, if surreal songwriter.
Anderson usually ambles on stage with an accordion and a guitar. The Earlies have performed as an 11-piece to create their psych-country sound. Having met at last year's Green Man festival, Anderson recruited them for his forthcoming commercial label debut, KC Rules OK.
Somehow, seven members of The Earlies, plus Fence's solo performer Pictish Trail, fitted on to the tiny Kilburn stage. The room above a pub was no place to be brandishing a tuba or double bass, and it was clearly a novelty for the diminutive Anderson. "It's like a school photograph, with all the big boys at the back," he said.
Anderson sounded more relaxed than in his solo performances and let the instruments carry the tunes more than his delicate voice.
Anderson has never written straight folk songs in the manner of his fellow Fencer James Yorkston. Here his pop sensibility was more pronounced, as the weird allusions of previous records were edged aside by tales of booze-soaked adventures and desperate romance.
Led by wheezing organ and parping brass, "Guess the Time" was northern soul meets Celtic rock, while "Jump at the Cats" was a vibrant bar room boogie. The Earlies complemented each song. They backed off, though, on the more meditative numbers, which left the forthcoming single, "Favourite Girl", sounding bland in comparison.
Anderson was more incisive with ballads that had some bite. "Not One Bit Ashamed" was a bitter tale of damaging excess, beaten later by "The Vice Like Gist of It" for its tale of an even more destructive relationship. By "Margarita Red" Anderson was complaining: "I could have had my head in my hands/ You wouldn't think to ask me".
It was all far too subtle for whoever is keeping James Blunt at No 1, so we may have to wait for a Peter, Paul and Mary, let alone a Simon and Garfunkel, to give the folk revival some momentum. Anderson has his own loser's anthem in "678", with its line for small people: "I was never going to be ahead of the rest." With The Earlies on hand, though, he is on to a winner.Reuse content