Tuesday 20 July 2010

Rab Noakes Oran Mor 26th June 2010

One of Scotland's quiet legend singer songwriters, Noakes has recorded with Lindisfarne, Gerry Rafferty and others. 
Rab is quiet and unassuming and his demeanor, look and sound reminded me of Buddy Holly and those 'Americana rock n' roll week day blues'.

Rab started with 'Eden's Flow' and ' A Brighter Blue'.  While he is a prolific songwriter Rab also likes to sing several cover songs, and he sang Radiohead's 'High and Dry.'  He spoke here of how 'electric guitars enhanced the dynamics on top of a good rich song' and he said that he 'liked to find the song underneath and strip it back to see if it still works.'  

He said how film songs are often of such high quality and sang a song from Calamity Jane.  He also sang a moving version of a song made famous by Doris Day 'Secret Love.'   He spoke of a documentary on Jimmy McGregror 'Bring It on Home' - (I met Jimmy after the gig when I was looking at Rab's CDs).  Noake's said how he admired Dylan's creative longevity and his leaving often his best stuff off his albums. He finished his set with a cover of one of Dylan's lesser known songs 'Mississippi', and also with one of his all time classics 'Somebody Counts on Me.' 

He commented that industry people should realise that 'we are just as interesting at 54 as we are at 24!'  Very true I felt!  Here is a Scottish legend often ignored - it made me think of guys like Seasick Steve and other American musicians who are considered 'cool' these days and Steve played Glastonbury last year. Noakes has a unique sound and memorable catchy songs. I judge a good gig by the audience reactions - and tonight people were mesmerized. Earlier a sound engineer had said that he sounded great during the sound check and said that I would love the gig.  The venue wasn't packed out though to my surprise.  After the gig I saw several at the CD table chatting and looking at Rab's CDs and saying how much they had enjoyed the gig.  Quite emotional really. 

Noakes recorded with Rafferty 'Can I Have My Money Back' and was on an early Stealers Wheel record. His 'Branch ' single was released in 1971.  He first recorded 'Highway to Take You Home' in 1970 for  the Decca label.  He later toured with the Veraflames, and he is now involved with production, writing and performance with has his own production company 'Neon.'  His sound may be referred to as a mixture of 'country with very unique interpretations of  rare contemporary material.' 

He hails from St Andrews. I first came across Rab's songs when I went to folk festivals in my twenties, and where we enjoyed singing his harmony-rich songs. For me it is not about those fantasy genre definitions on Wikipedia - what I care about is how original, authentic and moving an artist is and Noakes is the real deal. Rab was supported by Finlay Napier. 

Rab's Set List
 -(thanks Ran for sending over!)
1. eden's flow (RN)
2. a brighter blue (RN)
3. what do you want the girl to do? (Allen Toussaint)
4. roll on Saturday (RN)
5. light in my heart (RN)
6. high and dry (Radiohead)
7. bring it on home (Sam Cooke)
8. absence (RN & Johanna Demker)
9. a day away from here (RN & Hilary Brooks)
10 do that again (RN)
11. secret love (Webster, Fain)
12. gently does it (RN)
13. somebody counts on me (RN)
14. running from diane (RN, Nikolai Bloch & Julia Brown)
15. mississippi (Bob Dylan)