Live Review
Arts Centre, Cranleigh, Surrey 2005

"Surrey Advertiser"

IT may be almost four decades since a young Dick Gaughan took his first tentative steps on the folk scene, but he remains as uncompromising as ever.

A fiercely proud Scot who is nevertheless more than happy to debunk many of the myths that have grown up around his homeland's nationalism - witness his blistering rendition of the tremendous Brian McNeill song, No Gods & Precious Few Heroes - he can still manage to charm the pants off an audience in deepest Surrey.

Gaughan takes few prisoners and anybody who had never seen or heard of him before would soon get an idea of his political world view within a few minutes of the start of one of his concerts. But he found a warm welcome at Cranleigh Arts Centre on Saturday (Dec 3) and in turn treated us to a memorable night's entertainment. Mr G is a passionate performer whose guitar playing drives along his songs with real power, while his in-between-song chat is both witty and informative.

Opening with the Si Kahn song, What You Do With What You've Got, he proceeded to treat us to a few more Brian McNeill gems, including the writer's homage to John Muir, the Scot credited with starting the national parks movement in the USA, in Muir And The Master Builder. Either side of the break there were two of the finest songs Gaughan has ever recorded as he closed the first set with his version of Robert Burns' sublime Now Westlin Winds and opened the second half with Song For Ireland - both from his classic Handful Of Earth album, as was Both Sides The Tweed, with which he closed part two, before encoring with a song called, I believe, Lucky For Some, an assault on the corporate music business and a composition that will feature on his next album. Other highlights included his version of the still all too relevant Pete Seeger anti-war song, Waist Deep In The Big Muddy, his own Outlaws And Dreamers, dedicated to Yip Harburg, the man who wrote Somewhere Over the Rainbow but who was blacklisted during the McCarthy witch hunt, and a song about the mellowing of yesterday's political radicals.

Political mellowing is an accusation that will never be levelled at Dick Gaughan, for which we should all be truly grateful.


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