Everyone loves a loser, and King Creosote certainly seems to love playing one. Not that Kenny Anderson, the King himself, is doing all that badly these days. Perhaps the part of the world he hails from inspires an in-built sense of self-deprecation.
Based in the town of Anstruther, Fife, Anderson is the driving force behind the Fence record label, a resting place for a host of folk-tinged Scots musicians whose other most famous name is Domino Records' James Yorkston. A little more gentrified than the old mining communities of central Fife, the fishing ports of East Neuk – of which Anstruther is one – still form a bread-and-butter community that might see musicianship as a particularly affected and inconsequential vocation.
Unless, of course, your music takes you to national recognition, which is why K T Tunstall – from just up the road in St Andrews, and a sometime Fence accomplice – finds acceptance in the locality for being a "proper" pop star. You get the feeling that Anderson, though, doesn't get to overplay his occupation much, so his variety of stagecraft is built on an amiable but almost self-flagellating brand of humility.
Fluffy-bearded and anonymously dressed in brown jeans and a shapeless grey jumper, he recounts how his detailed calculations tell him that the previous night's gig in Durness saw his crowd shrink to one-18th of its size after a particularly tasteless gag went awry. "The new album peaked at number 98 in the top 100," he gleefully informs, "and it's now racing towards 200." Even an encore, Anderson says, will only happen if the audience can muster any appreciation for what has gone before.
Each of these self-inflicted put-downs is laced with knowing humour between himself and the band (similarly aliased Fence acolytes On the Fly, The Pictish Trail and Uncle Beasley), though you get the feeling that Anderson really doesn't like talking himself up. All of which adds to his appeal, because someone with so much going for him and no inclination to shout about it is a refreshing change on the ego-strewn battlefield of pop.
Delicate accordion shanties blend into precise passages of chiming guitar-pop storytelling in an almost Springsteen-like mould, then dissolve into squalling Stone Roses-influenced epics. There were many highlights, including a tremulous solo version of the nautical-themed ballad "Admiral", the uncharacteristic Blondie-aping rhythm of "Twin Tub Twin", and a bit of audience participation during "At the WAL", with the crowd rather amusingly asked to imitate the wasps that Anderson says he's so scared of (it's a metaphor for womankind).
In the gruff romanticism of "Favourite Girl", he also has an utterly gorgeous signature track, which might bring a tear to even a hard-bitten Fifer's eye. He did get an encore, in case you're wondering; in fact, he got two, and thoroughly deserved them both.
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