Edwyn Collins at Union Chapel
We’re lucky to have him here. We really are. In 2005 ex-Orange Juice frontman Edwyn Collins suffered a double brain haemorrhage that left him paralysed and barely able to speak. The resulting disturbance of speech meant that he could only repeat four phrases, over and over: “Yes”, “No”, “Grace Maxwell” (his wife) and “The possibilities are endless.” And indeed they are, judging by the slow but steady recovery that has led him to London’s most beautiful venue eight years later.
In 2007, Collins completed a comeback album Home Again and is now touring following the recent release of Understated, his best and most positively reviewed work since his 80s heyday. He slowly arrives on stage, aided by a walking stick and an audience roaring with the goodwill he’s built up over the years. He runs through several tracks from the new album, the standouts being lead single Dilemma, Love’s Been Good to Me and Too Bad (That’s Sad). His son William (who had earlier opened the show with his very decent group Bullies) joins him for the latter and relaxed smiles abound on stage.
The band is very tight and completely at ease with one another. Special mention must go to multi-instrumentalist Carwyn Ellis (from the night’s other support act, the excellent psychedelic pop outfit Colorama) and the astonishing guitarist James Walbourne. Collins allows the band free rein, and the sound is much heavier than his recorded solo material or the jangly pop guitars of Orange Juice. This suits the music and gives extra depth to the renditions of his ex-band’s hits What Presence, Rip it Up, Falling and Laughing, and Blue Boy.
From his solo catalogue, the beautiful Home Again and the worldwide hit A Girl like You have the adoring crowd fluctuating between tears and rapture. He communicates with difficulty, explaining that singing is second nature yet verbal communication is still a challenge. However, every utterance is greeted with great warmth. There’s so much love for Edwyn Collins and he knows it: the night is a pure celebration of a musician’s life. Embrace him, treasure him and be very grateful that we still have him.
Photos: Lucia Hrdá
For further information and future events visit Edwyn Collins’s website here.
Watch the video for Dilemma here: