When we spoke to Sweet Baboo (Stephen Black) about this tour back in late October, the plans were outlined in characteristic laissez faire faith. “I think we’re both going to go onstage together and then I think we might alternate songs and do some together…It’s all yet to be decided but we’ve got a rehearsal booked so it will all be very slick. It will always be very slick,” came the reassurance.
It’s not ordinarily a word you’d associate with this pair, slick; Cardiff’s Sweet Baboo, recognised for his off kilter anything goes approach to songwriting and performance, Scotland’s The Pictish Trail oscillating between blips, beats and heart-piercing tenderness in unannounced instants. It is slick though – heart-warmingly balanced between the natural affability of their persons and the alternating delivery of each beautiful craftsman into the appreciative silence of The Studio at Glee Club, tonight’s performance is as slick as they come.
With each sat in front of a set of keys, and with guitars behind at the ready, the pair embark upon an evening of anecdotes and charmingly meandering sentiment, split down the middle by an interval. They take it in turns to play a song, the other interjecting as appropriate – it’s two sets, but they’re each proactive in both. From Sweet Baboo we get a handful of new songs including the grey day beauty Walking In The Rain as well as stripped back versions of his poppier numbers, Let’s Go Swimming Wild his concluding showpiece. From The Pictish Trail a pretty collection of mellow acoustic songs, some more upbeat and techier numbers which are much more interesting and enjoyable (Wait Until a prime example), plus a song about Fargo. From them both we receive an intimate feeling of access all areas.
It’s hard to imagine a different scenario in which this would work, the two complement each other as easily as their music. That warm glow people seem so relentlessly to search for around Christmas time each year? It’s right here in this room.