GIANT SAND ABC2, Glasgow, January 15 * * *

January 28, 2011

In his 25-year 25-album career, Howe Gelb, the man behind Giant Sand, has married a multitude of influences. Country, rock, jazz, blues, punk and psychedelia are just some of the sounds that have made Giant Sand a continuously shifting proposition.

So as you’d expect tonight’s appearance at the ABC, part of this year’s Celtic Connections festival, saw Gelb and his Danish four-piece backing band play an eclectic set that dazzled as much as it disappointed.

The best tracks were those that took the audience on a journey. Hugely evocative lyrics coupled with darkly hypnotic rhythms made numbers like Shiver and Monk’s Mountain truly spell-binding. The latter in particular, punctuated with ragged bursts of distortion as the song reached its gloriously chaotic climax, was quite mesmerising.

However, with such a varied background Gelb’s ability to hold the crowd’s attention at times failed him, especially during the sedate jazz of Time Flies, but it was the increasingly frequent moments when Chris Rhea and Dire Straits sprang to mind that made tonight your archetypal hit and miss performance.

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