the mystique: rm hubbert

on thursday, i went to see rm hubbert at the railway
in winchester. i’ve not been to a live gig for a while, so it was good
to put my feelers out and start catching up. hubby is an old friend from
the glasgow music scene, and i’d not seen him for quite a while. he’s
played in a number of bands over the years, but it his solo career that
is currently gaining much acclaim.

turned up in the middle of the first act to see hubby sat by the merch
stall – and somewhat surprised him (apologies for that!). we managed to
catch up a bit between songs and sets, and it was great to hear about
everything he’s been up to recently. it is, after all, the dream of many
folk to do what they love all day, even if the constant touring is
particularly grueling.

much has been said about the inspiration
behind hubby’s albums – mainly that the records are a means to express the
recent (and indeed not so recent) hardships of his life. as hubby
explains, he finds it the best therapy in the world for one to express
oneself through writing and performing. when dealing with subjects such
as love, loss, death and depression, though, one may be concerned that
buying the music or attending the shows might be a bit of a downer. in
effect, the opposite is true.

i found myself captivated by
hubby’s handling of the acoustic guitar. the intense expression and
feeling was enhanced by the simplicity of this one-man show. his recent
exploration of folk and flamenco are very much apparent, but underneath
you can still make out his roots in 1980s u.s. hardcore (dead kennedys, minutemen, black flag …). the melding of these genres is an unexpected pleasure, but hubby’s own style and delivery make it stand out all the more.

what of “the mystique” to which i have alluded? well, in short, this
isn’t just a show with one man and a guitar – hubby also talks to us
about the songs. he manages to instil a clarity of thought and
perspective with which the audience can truly identify: this he
communicates in (often blue) language that finds us laughing at things
that may otherwise be sombre. without giving too much away, an audience
will leave the rm hubbert show with a certain feeling of serenity, and
that life somehow makes sense. this is a powerful result from the
simplest of line ups.

it’s interesting for me that whilst we
share the same musical upbringing, my musical output has become entirely
electronic, whereas hubby’s has become entirely acoustic. i now find
myself drawing inspiration from hubby’s truly individual work.

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