Live Review RM Hubbert & Friends, CCA, Glasgow

The atmosphere in the room is hushed and reverential, you can literally hear every squeak of his chair and every breath in the mic.

This is a sold out show for RM Hubbert; it also stands as a homecoming, even though he’s recently moved out of the city. Such is the breadth of music in Glasgow at the moment, that the sight of a strapping, heavily tattooed chap like Hubbert playing quasi-classical guitar barely registers as unusual. The atmosphere in the room is hushed and reverential, you can literally hear every squeak of his chair and every breath in the mic.

‘Buxtasy’, a new song about mixing stimulants, has tapped out beats, almost an acoustic rave. It provokes the first of several personal observations that intersperse the songs. It’s these details – like his ex-wife presenting him with a bottle of tonic wine as a house warming gift – which endear Hubbert to the audience as much as his music. ‘The False Bride’ a folk song recorded with Alasdair Roberts for the album of collaborations; ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’, is tonight sung by Hubbert who turns out to have an effective folk voice himself. “He kills himself at the end,” he says of the song’s protagonist, “What a cheery way to spend a Saturday night!” Ever self-deprecating, he feels able to share stories of how he turned to song writing to help himself out of a period of depression.

‘V’, a more up tempo number inspired by his girlfriend, follows. Without the clutter of lyrics it is possible to impose your own meaning on the music, but without the attendant anecdotes it wouldn’t feel quite so personal. Stevie Johnston – his former El Hombre Trajeado band mate – joins him on keyboard for their composition ‘Sandwalking’, which has Morricone Western flavours. Touring with Aidan Moffat, and sharing his enthusiasm for the Muppet Movie Soundtrack and a crush on Nicola Roberts, inspired an attempt to write a pop song. The result, ‘Bolt’, sounds like Arab Strap with a hint of rhythmical influence from the solo work of the Girls Aloud songstress.

‘For Joe’, a plaintive eulogy for his late ex-father in law, demonstrates again that it’s easier to talk about grief or depression to a room full of strangers – even if tonight’s audience does contain a lot of people he knows. Catharsis remains the motivating force. Old pal and touring buddy Emma Pollock takes the stage to perform ‘Half Light’, a song that has more of a jazz flavour than anything else the former Delgado has performed before.

There is a new song, written while sitting in underwear playing video games, and a song “about curry”. Its hard to be quite sure when he’s joking, the Scottish male affliction of veiling emotions with humour keeps such intentions shrouded. Honesty about feelings is hard, but Hubbert achieves it in his heartfelt instrumental.

Badger-bearded and be-cardiganed, Aidan Moffat is the other guest of the evening. We don’t get to hear their Muppets cover, Hubby’s been too busy playing Bioshock Infinite to rehearse it, “A must for fans of video games and quantum mechanics,” he says launching into a review. “Can we do this fucking song, there’s drinking to be done!” counters Moffat, living up to his well established boozy reputation. His contribution, ‘Car Song’ is a great moment. An escape fantasy, replete with everyday images, he refers to a lyric sheet but the delivery is disarmingly sincere, and it is as good as anything he’s done post-Arab Strap.

A short and sweet cover of Daniel Johnston’s ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’ which Hubbert swiftly learned to play for a friend’s wedding, further disarms the audience. Finally Emma Pollock returns for an Italian folk song that she and Hubby recorded for a tour-only EP. He seems pleased to be playing it to a Glasgow audience at last, happy to be home (even if home is now in nearby Troon).