The Revival Tour @ The Garage, Glasgow

In the days of a darker past when an ailing economy left people struggling to fend for themselves and wars in far-off places tore communities apart it was left to the tradition of folk music to bring people together under a common cause.

With The Revival Tour Chuck Ragan has curated an event which seeks to breathe new life into those long abandoned traditions.  While much has changed in the world, with listeners music choices evolving and the iPod and tablet devices making the art and increasingly personal experience, some things always retain that sense of familiarity.  People are once at the mercy of a strangling economy, like their ancestors in the 1920’s and 30’s, while global conflicts are seemingly boiling daily.  Now more than ever the celebration of folk music can bring people together and give the voiceless a voice.  Here Chuck Ragan sought to do that with his talented collection of collaborators, amongst them Cory Branan, Emily Barker, Jay Malinkowski and Rocky Votolato.

This was a relentless three hour extravaganza of guitars, harmonica, banjos, fiddles, double bass and just about every other instrument you could fit onto a stage.

It is novel to see an artist, or a group of artists, enjoy performing as much as the audience enjoys a performance, but here the enthusiasm was coursing through the veins of The Garage.  The camaraderie on stage fuelled the appetite of the audience.

The format of The Revival Tour ensures that there is always something happening.  There is no support act and so no impatient pause before the headline set, and no false goodbyes before the ‘surprise’ encore.  The entire group of musicians – at least eight or nine – open and close the set, with each individual artist afforded a 20-30 minute set in between to perform their own material.  The real beauty is that you don’t know what to expect next.  There are collaborations all through the night as different artists and new instruments bound on and off stage to assist in each individual set.  When one considers that the artists have been assembled only months beforehand for the sole purpose of this tour it is extraordinary how they click together like seasoned veterans.

Cory Branan had the audience in spells of laughter with his quirky lyrics and deadpan delivery, almost spoken in a manner similar to Tom Waits or Craig Finn of The Hold Steady.  Emily Barker blew us away with her harmonica laced set while Chuck Ragan’s gravel voice and multi-instrumental talent brought the house down, particularly when he teased a future Hot Water Music tour before playing Drag My Body Down.

There are a multitude of acts on the road today – perhaps more than at any time in history – but there is nothing like The Revival Tour.  This is a unique experience where a collection of immensely talented individual musicians have assembled to guarantee a great night of music in the finest tradition of the art.

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