Cam Penner and Jon Wood

Venue: The Tron
Town: Glasgow
Date: 16/01/16

They did it again - but there was never any doubt that Cam Penner and Jon Wood would enthrall and seduce us all on their return to Glasgow for this opening Celtic Connections weekend.

There is an understated glory to their music: enthralling, haunting, comforting, arresting and altogether deliciously spellbinding. These best of buddies may live eight hours apart and create songs via long distance but put them on a stage and their closeness is vivid and heart-warming, and we all can rejoice.

A full house, the launch of the excellent, new "Sex and Politics" album - his sixth full-length one - and Cam's oft-repeated declaration of pleasure to be among us made us all glad to be there. Cam's a big guy with a big, powerful voice (at times like John Grant) or barely a whisper in many gentler passages and he dominates the stage without ever over-shadowing his partner, whose composed guitar, pedal steel and discreet, technical genius underpinned the entire riveting performance. Subtlety features high on their list of musical charms.

Opening song of the night and the new album, I'm Calling Out was gorgeous, the duo slipping into the Neil Young-style dip and flow of the tune. It is lush. And then, as happens on the album, it filtered seamlessly into I Believe, which is more abrasive than the opener but serves to prove the bravado and also inventiveness that marks their output.

A trio of tracks from 2013's stunning and lavishly-praised, "To Build A Fire" - If You Love Somebody, House of Liars, No Consequence - were slotted in among the new gems, providing tones and moods that swept through gospel and blues, even some restrained hip-hop. It was endlessly bewitching, subtle, interesting: all in all this duo are a rarity in terms of emotional content.

Matured in a remote shack in Canada and shared wherever great music is in demand, we praise Cam and Jon for letting us in on their joyous offerings once again.

Mike Ritchie

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