Edwyn Collins – Pocklington Arts Centre, 13th April 2013
More than 30 years ago Edwyn Collins was employed in his local Parks Department. At his own admission, he was very happy then. Much has happened in his life since that time. In the very early ‘80as he was in the vanguard of the sound of young Scotland as along with other Postcard Records stable mates he and his band Orange Juice crashed over Hadrian’s Wall and into a wider public consciousness with the jingle and jangle of their new wave pop sensibilities. Orange Juice’s flame flickered for four years, burning most bright in 1983 with the Top Ten single “Rip It Up” before being extinguished a couple of years later with the apposite “Lean Period”. Further critical acclaim and greater success has followed in his subsequent recording career courtesy of eight solo albums, one of which Gorgeous George furnished him with a 1995 worldwide hit with the single “A Girl Like You”.
Mid-way through this sold out show and immediately prior to introducing the title song from his penultimate album “Losing Sleep”, Edwyn Collins remarks that it is now eight years since he had his stroke. Given the facts that he walks with the aid of stick and ironically when one considers the lyrics to “Rip It Up”, his right arm is stuck like glue to his side that much would surely have been clear to even the most uninitiated in the Pocklington Arts Centre this evening. Yet whilst it may have been something that dramatically changed the course of his life forever it is clearly not something which defines it. And nor does his music.
Having now spent another 75 glorious minutes in the company of this remarkable man and his wonderful band of musicians what becomes abundantly clear is that whilst that illness and his entire musical body of work are undoubtedly very much part of Edwyn Collins’ life, what may ultimately define him is his indefatigable spirit. With the love and support of his wife Grace Maxwell and their son Will - who joins the band for two songs tonight – he is living, breathing proof of someone who is able to fully embrace the unpredictability of life and continue to maintain an emotional balance within it. It is a balance which is reflected in the seventeen songs he performs this evening as he merges his past with his present. From Orange Juice’s debut single “Falling and Laughing” across the soulful landscape of “Ghost Of A Chance” and “In Your Eyes” to the four cuts taken from his recently released album Understated, they all provide a consistent road map to his life and dare one say it, his soul.
Having introduced “Losing Sleep” Edwyn Collins then went on to say that despite his stroke he is still singing and playing. Not only is that much true, but just as he was more than 30 years ago he is still very happy now. And so are we that we can continue to share evenings like this with him, his tremendous spirit and his life affirming music.