- Joe McManus
- 13 August 2017
Songs of freedom and social justice from Edinburgh songwriters
'People come from all over the world to watch people from all over the world,' is Kevin Gore's explanation of how he and Bobby Nicholson came to put on Gone Native. Both Scottish Independence campaigners, these Edinburgh songwriters pin their colours to the mast from the off, but their humour and humility means it never feels hectoring.
In the first half of a split show, Gore blazes through a set of protest songs rooted in the 60s folk revival. 'Berlin Suicide' contrasts Gore's grandfather, killed in WW2, with Scottish youths attending a recent neo-Nazi rally, before taking on Dick Gaughan's interpretation of 'No Gods and Precious Few Heroes'.
Nicholson joins at the half-way mark for another Gaughan standard, 'Erin Go Bragh'; his clipped Edinburgh policeman character contrasting Gore's ardent highlander, their interplay breathing new life into this tale of the Irish diaspora of the Cowgate in the 1800s.
Nicholson takes over for the second half, lulling the audience in with quotidian antics of bored youth in the laugh out loud 'Things to Do When Nothin's on the Telly' before the song slips into the post-industrial breakdown of the social contract and the excesses of the 1%.
Less direct than his counterpart's, Nicholson's songs masquerade as funny vignettes, but there's an edge to them, like Irvine Welsh dialogue over Travis picking.
'Refugees' – a re-worked version of Woodie Guthrie's 'Deportee' - is the most earnest of his set, but we're back to trademark Nicholson with 'Stuff Yer Licence BBC', detailing his disdain for the BBC and Downton Abbey, despite it being on ITV ('it scans well, so I'm leaving it in') and 'Panda Porn', a cynical take on the propaganda power of the 'over-fed, under-bred, anti-social bastards.' An hour that flies by, Gone Native shows a much-maligned genre in its best light.
The Royal Oak, until 28 Aug, 6.30pm, £8 (£6).