Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, The Arches, Glasgow

This apperaed in The Herald Scotland - January 31, 2011

Marty Stuart may have to rethink his band’s name. On this showing, Fabulous Superlatives just doesn’t quite cover it for either the bouffant, Nudie-jacketed Stuart or his partners in country music.

Come to think of it, “country music” maybe undersells Stuart and his posse’s repertoire, especially if your idea of country music is the bland, twangy pop that Nashville produces nowadays. Stuart can twang with the best but his 90-minute set covered country in its broadest, complete-appreciation-of-everything-that’s-gone-into-the-genre sense.

From his opening Tennessee bar band exhortation for the world to stop, through the grit and grain of Merle Haggard, the deep draught from the wellspring of tradition that was "Long Black Veil" and his fingerbustin’ bluegrass blasts on both acoustic guitar and mandolin on to the four guys round a microphone gospel section, Stuart gave extraordinary value.

The energy that comes offstage as Stuart and the band’s fall guy, Kenny Vaughan tear up unison Telecaster runs is almost palpable and the instrumental "Hummingbyrd," with its echoes of The Byrds’ classic country pickfest Nashville West, illustrated Stuart’s suitability as the rightful custodian of the late great Clarence White’s guitar.

Stuart is a great ambassador for the music, a master of the concise song form and a singer, like his former boss Johnny Cash who was celebrated in a marvellous "Dark Bird," who sings directly from the heart. Too bad an encore was vetoed by the powers that be, denying us one more shot of fabulous superlativeness.

By Rob Adams

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