Jay Brannan – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

Posted: May 11, 2012 in Photography
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Jay Brannan – live at King Tut’s, Glasgow.

I first encountered Jay Brannan as the character of Ceth in Shortbus six years ago, and after hearing him sing “Soda Shop” right before the scene when people started leaving the cinema, have been a huge fan of his music ever since. During that time, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him perform twice: at The Arches in 2010, and again last month at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.

He’s currently on the European leg of his “Rob Me Blind” Tour in promotion of his third album, and I was equal parts relieved and elated to see Glasgow on his tour schedule again after his last gig here was marred by one (I will euphemistically say) overenthusiastic fan. As with that previous performance, the audience was a veritable Who’s Who Gay of Glasgow – though based on the reactions of the regular clientele, I’m guessing the bar itself is usually not.

First up was support act Sean Kennedy, who – judging by the crowd’s response – had brought along a fair share of supporters from his native Ayrshire. Whilst this provided a great atmosphere for the duration of his set (which was very good), I did find it a little ungracious that they packed up the minute he was done, and proceeded to spend the rest of the evening at the bar next door making so much noise that it was difficult at times to hear the musicians still on stage. (Ordinarily, I’d admit to that being a fairly petty complaint at a live music gig, but it was a small space – made all the emptier by them clearing out – and this thing was acoustic.)

Next up was Ryan Keen, who – I can honestly say – did things with a guitar that I didn’t know were possible. (Indeed, prior to that night, I didn’t know percussive guitar playing even existed.) The breakout star of the evening was, however, his companion, Leroy: sat atop a cajón and who, by dint of his wonderful name, inadvertently had the crowd chanting it the entire night. During a cover of The Killers’ “All These Thing That I’ve Done”, the audience was split into Team Ryan and Team Leroy to help sing the harmony, and the latter – fuelled by their newfound love of Leroy (Le-roy!) – succeeded in wholly drowning out the former. Needless to say, I was among them.

Mr Brannan finally took the stage about 10 o’clock, and – as with the last time I saw him – proceeded to blow me away with his set. Jay’s performances are notable not only for his talent as a singer/songwriter, but also for the banter that occurs between songs – always injected with his unique brand of self-deprecating humour, audience participation and frequently brutal honesty.

His real gift, however, is running that same gamut in the music itself – from the raw and achingly beautiful subversion of “A Love Story” to an impassioned cry for reason from religious extremism in “Goddamned”, and – adjacent to both – an acoustic cover of Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” complete with choreography.

Also on the itinerary: a Jay Brannan a capella cover of Nina Gordon’s cover of N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” (!), and “Superbass” by Nicki Minaj. (“My next album is gonna be a rap album. For sure,” he quipped.)

[Insert obvious joke about Jay knowing how to handle a pair of balls here]

All humour aside though, Jay’s own music is sung as much to felt as it is heard, and if you’re not already familiar with his work, I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

As an added bonus, he’s also one of the loveliest guys you could meet, and hung around well after his set to talk and pose for pictures with everyone who waited. (Please excuse the blinding flash here – my camera was proving temperamental, in no way aided by the fact that someone else was behind it.) John also got a picture with Jay, which illustrates beautifully why I feel so short on a daily basis despite being of above average height: because he is a giant

I also continued the tradition of picking up his most recent album whilst at one of his shows (and, for my trouble, learned that his brother, Markus, and I almost share a name.) Ever the professional, he came prepared with a silver pen for just such an occasion. And, on arriving back home…

… I also found this pleasant surprise on my Twitter. Perfect end to a fantastic night.

Jay Brannan’s third album, Rob Me Blind, is available now on iTunes, and you can check all of his upcoming tour dates over on his official site. You can also see my pictures from his previous gig at The Arches here.

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