I know my blog is usually about my love of cooking and baking but I occasionally like to write about other things as well. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a huge Wet Wet Wet fan. Their music has been a big part of my life and has seen me from studying for my GCSEs, right through to the present day as a forty something wife and mum of two teenagers! More recently I have been able to see them live on several occasions which is always a fantastic experience, leaving you with on a massive high for days afterwards.
The same happens when I go to one of Graeme Clark’s gigs. Graeme Clark is better known as Wet Wet Wet’s bass guitarist but he is also very adept on an acoustic guitar and can sing. He has been working on solo projects for the past four years or so now in between working with the Wets. His music style overlaps a little with that of the Wets mainly because he contributes heavily to their music writing.
In 2014 I was lucky enough to see Graeme play live in two venues near to me in North Yorkshire. He played to a packed Selby Town Hall in May of that year and two months later as I had enjoyed the gig so much I went up to Stockton on a very hot summer’s evening to see his show at the ARC.
So, it was exciting when Graeme announced on his Facebook page that he was going to be performing a solo gig at Siempre Bicycle Cafe in Glasgow. It was part of the line up for the West End Festival which takes place in June. Being as it was a Sunday night and I wasn’t working the next day, I was determined to go and asked my friends if they were up for it. You bet they were! Now as I’ve mentioned before in my gig review posts about the band, I have a fabulous group of friends who I have made over the past couple of years. They are affectionately known as my Wettie mates and we have a great laugh on our #wetsroadtrips as they get called on Twitter . I’m the driver usually as I don’t mind driving on motorways or doing long distances. My car has now been nicknamed the Wets Wagon and it is going to be on another trip this weekend to London to see the band play at Royal Hospital, Chelsea.
Last Sunday lunchtime my friend Dot and I set off from York, picking up our friends Julie and Laura from Teeside on our way up to Glasgow. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and just the perfect day for driving up to Scotland. I wasn’t nervous about driving there as I have driven to Glasgow a few times before over the years. I was more worried about the long 225 mile trip home after the gig. Still, the adrenaline and lots of caffeine would keep me going! I had my iPod playing on the car stereo with a GC playlist which featured all his songs from his first album Mr Understanding and his two EPs Catching Fire and Dry Land. On the way back we would have an extra treat! Graeme’s brand new album The Thought Collector would be available to buy at the gig.
The traffic was fine getting along the A66 and onto the M6 and then the M74. I was so relieved there wasn’t too much traffic and I began to feel less anxious about getting us all there in good time. We had time to stop for half an hour at Annandale Water. It made me feel as if I was going on holiday when we stopped there, it’s usually where I stop on our way to holidays on the Isle of Arran or Mull! Only this time I was having something to eat and a good catch up with my Wettie mates instead of moaning at my teenage son for buying Krispy Kreme doughnuts, then feeling sick later!
We got to the venue at about 6pm. It was on a busy road in Glasgow’s West End. I didn’t know the area but as we drove there I recognised round by the Botanical Gardens and Great Western Road where I stayed when I was a student on my travels. It was bustling with people out enjoying themselves and the sunny weather. It’s what it should be about. If only we had more days like that.
When we found Siempre Cafe we had to walk round to the side entrance which was next to the subway station. As we got there we heard music playing and a familiar voice coming from inside the cafe. It was Graeme doing his sound check! Later on, when he had finished he realised there was a queue of people waiting outside and he came outside to say hello to all of us. We then went in and got ourselves sat down ready for the gig to start. We felt very lucky as we were given a free glass of wine! As I was driving I could only have a couple of sips so I had to stick to my diet coke!
To open up the show we watched contemporary folk duo Fiona Cuthill and Stevie Lawrence. I loved their music with Fiona on the fiddle and Stevie playing a guitar or a bouzouki. Watching a fiddle player in action is mesmerizing, and I was envious. I had violin lessons at school but was so rubbish I gave up after a year and stuck with playing the piano instead!
Graeme is very entertaining and chatty towards his audience between songs. He talks about how his songs come about , all with a great sense of humour added to them. Unlike some famous people whose egos and self importance could fill a room, this is not the case with Graeme. He seems a very genuine, natural and down to earth bloke.
In the past Graeme has played solo gigs with fellow Wet Wet Wet guitarist Graeme Duffin joining him with his acoustic guitar and also with Iain Duff who plays keyboards and the accordion. Today though it was just Graeme himself and Iain, who compliment each other really well on stage.
Graeme’s set included a few Wet Wet Wet songs, such as Goodnight Girl and Love Is All Around. Fiona and Steve added another dimension to the performance with their instruments. Graeme also played Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now as well as a few of old favourite solo songs from Dry Land, Catching Fire and Mr Understanding. I loved hearing Kiss Of Life and Lost At Sea again. Graeme also introduced us to some new material from his brand new album The Thought Collector. We heard Summer Rain which was a beautiful song and captures the feeling you have when you want to escape from it all! I wondered if it had been written last summer as it did nothing but rain all summer in the UK! But for me, the absolute highlight of the evening was the very catchy Do Those Things To Me which provided a fantastic finale/ encore to the evening with Fiona and Stevie joining Graeme and Iain back on stage. We were all joining in with the chorus and clapping in time to the music.
Towards the end of the show a bit fell off Iain’s accordion! I don’t know anything about accordions but a piece of it just fell on the ground! He picked it up and stuck it on with duct tape. Thankfully he was able to carry on playing it, the show must go on as they say!
Tonight’s show was also an opportunity to get a copy of the first edition of Graeme’s latest CD The Thought Collector. There were only fifty copies available of the album, each numbered and signed by the man himself. We were all eagerly wanting to hear this new album as Graeme has introduced certain snippets from a couple of the songs over the past year by posting videos on YouTube, etc.
Off we set off for the long drive back home. I was desperate for a coffee or something to keep me awake. We were also hungry as we hadn’t eaten any dinner. We turned up at the first services going south on the M74 to find only Starbucks open with four packs of manky sandwiches left! We ended up with me just getting a massive bucket sized coffee to wake me up. Finally at about 1am we were eating MaccyD’s back at Annandale Water several hours after we had been there on the way to Glasgow!
As we drove along we had Graeme’s new album playing on my car stereo and agreed it was amazing. It got the big thumbs up from us!
It was getting light as we got towards Scotch Corner which was a surreal experience and even stranger to be putting diesel in my car at 3.30am after we had dropped Julie off. Round over to Laura’s and then on the A19 back towards my house. It was 4.30am and Dot got in at 5am. None of us got much sleep that night but we all raved about what an amazing time it had been. We wouldn’t have missed the gig for the world. Now as we speak we are all excited to see Graeme again, but this time with the rest of the Wets at Chelsea!
Many thanks to my friend Dot for some of the photos, my phone takes rubbish pics!
For more information go to www.graemeclark.co.uk
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