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Cam Penner, Jon Wood

Venue: The Admiral
Town: Glasgow
Date: 30-11/16

Unlike one of his neighbours, Cam Penner doesn't opt to sleep alfresco in the sub zero temperatures of winter in his remote Canadian home but his wondrous music does have an open to the elements, call of the wild feel to it.

Hollering, as if sending a message through the dense woods one second and then the next, he's hushed and singing, almost falsetto, in lullaby mode that would soothe a fractious infant. The contrast and the shading help him occupy a musical outcrop very few can ever hope to reach, emotionally or creatively, or so wonderfully.

And this vocal dexterity, comforted and prodded by the spectral-like Jon Wood with his box of samples and glorious guitar interventions, is what makes any show by these dudes utterly beguiling and breathtaking.

The way this gig unraveled was no different. Subdued or stomping along, it was altogether electrifying leaving no one in any doubt that we were witnessing no ordinary performance, but exemplary performers.

The opening two songs set the scene emphatically. Look Out Your Window, from this year's unrivalled release, Sex and Politics, drifted and swirled dreamily around like mist in the trees, poking through the branches, sneaking up on you while the commanding I Believe (from the same album) was driven on by a swaggering, bumping bass drum and wanton, belted out vocals.

Their ten-year partnership, including partying, got mentioned here by way of slipping into the lilting treasure that is Trouble and Mercy, the title from his 2009 release, with Jon's infusions of sounds both bracing and calming.

House of Liars from 2013's To Build A Fire - theme to a BBC drama, Stonemouth - plus Thirteen, also from Trouble and Mercy, were delivered with grit and spirit, the latter dedicated to hobos and the homeless. Cam's not ignored those in need since music increased its hold on him: he still helps out by working in a shelter.

A Leonard Cohen tribute and cover, Dance Me To The End Of Love was slipped in seamlessly and clearly demonstrated Cam's own golden voice - and in encore time, Honey (from Sex and Politics) and This Could Be Your Anthem (To Build A Fire) were up-tempo rockers with Jon's fiery guitar breaks lighting up these closing, raucous minutes. His contribution throughout was immense.

The way this duo work together, in their hideaway recording cabin or on stage, relies on abundant, unfettered talent, mutual respect, understanding, care and love of their art, and it was blatant on this their latest visit to Glasgow. Those of us who elect to tune in are clearly blessed.

Mike Ritchie

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