Live Review R.M. Hubbert & Friends, Stereo, Glasgow

Hubbert’s virtuosity is well appreciated.

Chemikal Underground has become a byword for musical distinction with a certain section of Glasgow’s indie cognoscenti. All the way back in the mid-1990s, a small group of friends who are still affiliated with the label helped lay the foundations for what has become one of the most vibrant music scenes in the country. One of these instigators was the comparatively unsung R.M. Hubbert - known to one and all as Hubby.

A talented guitarist, re-emerging a few years ago to engage audiences with his signature flamenco-influenced style, he has now recorded his second solo album '13 Lost And Found'. Produced by Alex Kapranos, it is written and performed by a veritable who’s who of the Glasgow scene, including turns by 13 other artists.
Tonight serves as a launch for - and a celebration of - the album and opens with 'Sunbeam Melts The Hour', a complex, oriental sounding meditation featuring vocals and Chinese harp from Hanna Tuulikki and Marion Kenny. When both women kiss Hubbert on the cheek as they leave the stage, he jokes that he’d better pucker up for Aidan Moffat who is joining him later. 'Gus Am Bris An Latha', a Gaelic titled number with John Ferguson on banjo follows, delicately combining melancholy folk airs with Hubby’s percussive guitar technique.

Playing one of the three solo pieces from the album, he notes that he didn’t work with a collaborator on every track, so as “not to be skint” – it’s meant light-heartedly but as someone who has self-released records and played shows in people’s homes under the banner “Will Play For Food” – it’s a well aimed plea to the audience to follow through with their support and buy the album.

His virtuosity is well appreciated, and when juxtaposed with Alasdair Robert’s plaintive folk voice for 'The False Bride', hypnotic. Capitalising on the new textures that reconnecting with these friends has brought to his music, Hubby’s warm guitar tones and dark humour shine through. Emma Pollock’s rather mournful 'Half Light', and another instrumental, 'For Joe', point up the key themes of loss and remembrance.

An audience member calls for a dedication which Hubbert politely refuses, “It usually takes dying to get a dedication from me… that wasn’t me putting out a hit by the way.” 'Car Song' sees Aidan Moffat’s sardonic storytelling tones set to emotive arpeggios, while Alex Kapranos adds harmonic details with a melodica.

Hubby gets his kiss from Aidan (or a whispered word of encouragement at least) and there is a sense that the combination of wit and wistfulness present in the music has only been strengthened by the rewarding musical relationship with his peers.