Review: King Creosote, Dalkeith Arts Centre

King Creosote

King Creosote

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It’s probably safe to say that anyone introducing a song with the line “here’s a cheery song about mental illness in the family” isn’t likely to be destined for mainstream stardom, even if the tune that follows is as beautifully heart-rending as Kenny Anderson’s Camels Swapped For Wives.

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While record sales might not exactly be through the roof, the diminutive Fifer, more commonly known as King Creosote, has deservedly earned cult status.

Dry, wry and featuring a healthy dose of cynicism, his carefully-observed tales of ordinary life work better in intimate and unusual settings, which is exactly what the newly-refurbished Dalkeith Arts Centre offers.

Appearing as part of the week-long Midlothian Festival, we soon discover it’s his first ever gig in the town.

In among gems like Not One Bit Ashamed, Home In A Sentence and Doubles Underneath, the Fence Record chief punctuates the set with amusing ramblings about everything from the day’s DIY exploits to a mid-life crisis manifesting itself in the form of an unhealthy obsession with canoes.

With an incredible 40-plus albums to his name, as well as numerous collaborations and contributions, it’s always going to be hard to satisfy his hardcore fans with just a dozen or so tunes, but the prolific songwriter makes a valiant attempt nonetheless, delving into his ample back catalogue to play All The Threes, Homeboy and relative rarity Mantra-rap.

And in the spirit of democracy, we’re treated, after a show of hands, to John Taylor’s Month Away from the 2011 Mercury Prize-nominated Diamond Mine.

“This is the one you’ve been waiting for, this is the hit!” says Anderson, launching into closer You’ve No Clue Do You as the audience steal guilty glances at one another, knowing exactly what we’re each thinking. Long may that lack of success continue – it means we don’t have to share.