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Austin Jenckes - The Poetry Club, Glasgow 06.09.2019

Friday night in Glasgow, down by the arches in Kelvinside, sees me park in a haphazard manner and head toward SWG3 to see Austin Jenckes make his Glasgow debut, one of only a handful of UK shows he’s playing.

Having abandoned the car, I join what is a fairly long queue…far too long for the 129 capacity Poetry Club but it’s too late – my English genes have kicked in and I take my place in the line. Well, I say my English genes but mostly it’s because this queue goes past a burger van and, due to the quick turn around at home, I’ve not eaten since lunchtime. Seems Austin’s set list is not the only place for a Fat Kid this evening!

Anyhoo, burger duly dispatched, I make my way into the venue only to find that my hunger inspired tardiness has backfired. The first of the support bands, Zoee & The Band, are already on stage and nearly finished their set. It turns out that their flight from Glasgow has been cancelled, so they’re having to hot foot it over to Edinburgh airport to catch a flight to Sweden. I only get to catch 2 songs, but it’s enough to make me regret not getting here sooner.

Once Zoee has left the building, our next support act takes the stage. I have seen Kevin McGuire before (he supported Katy Hurt at 13th Note) and he’s just as impressive tonight as he was then. Tonight he’s joined by Mikey on guitar and we get to hear more from them (due to Zoee’s early departure). Kevin is one of those people whose sound makes you re-evaluate what you think Country is and he is definitely worth checking out – his new single 'The Night Is Young' (T.N.I.Y) is brilliant. If you are (or are planning to be) in Glasgow on 29th November, he’s playing a headline show at Broadcast and, based on what I’ve seen, there are few better ways to spend a Friday night.

And then, through the audience, walks Austin Jenckes, guitar case in hand. He takes the stage, plugs in, sits down and we’re away. He opens with “Pretty Girls and Alcohol” and then we spend the next hour or so just spellbound. We’re treated (and treated is the right word) to songs from the album like “American Nights”, “We Made It”, “Bet You’d Look Good”, “Ride Away”, as well as “Fat Kid” and the achingly beautiful “If You’d Been Around”. There’s also an amazing cover of “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am” by Patty Loveless, made all the more special by the fact that it’s a song his dad used to cover.

It’s not just the music either – I’ve mentioned the 129 capacity of the venue and this could, with some people, be overwhelming but he Austin comes genuinely comes across as a nice guy, who talks from the heart and just wins you over with his self-deprecating wit. At one point he asks if there’s anything he hasn’t played that we’d like to hear…to which the unanimous response is “Never Left Memphis”. This brings a wry grin to Austin’s face, as he swears he’s never played it without the band…but he’s willing to give it a try, on the proviso that if it goes wrong he’ll morph it into another song. He absolutely smashes it but, to be honest, at this point in the show he could play “Saturday Night” by Whigfield and we’d all love it. (If you haven’t already Austin, then don’t…you’ll never get those 223 seconds of your life back!) The show closes with Austin playing some new songs which should be on the new album and then, all too soon, the lights come up and it’s time to leave, but only after Austin has promised he’ll be back.

As I head back to the car I’m already looking forward to his return but also regretting that it will undoubtedly be in a less intimate venue…but then I’m struck by a thought – tonight I have been at a show that, in future, others can only claim to have been at. And it’s a very nice thought.

Photos & Review - Chris Watson

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