Music preview: Richmond Fontaine @ Stereo, Glasgow

Published by METRO

At first it seems an odd choice of venue for an American alt.country band that’s been on the circuit for almost two decades. After all, formed in 1994 and with ten albums to their name, this four-piece have been performing together for as long as the average Stereo customer has been able to eat without wearing a bib.

But what true music fans will know is that talent and energy, and not age or fashion, are the only ingredients required to make a concert an enjoyable one for any crowd –so it’s something of a relief that Richmond Fontaine possesses both attributes in stockpiles.

OK, so you need some persuading. Let’s start with talent. While the US may not be lacking guitar bands that play in a folky, rootsy manner, what foregrounds Richmond Fontaine from the rest is the lyrical quality of its material. Frontman and songwriter Willy Vlautin’s story-based songs, which focus upon ordinary human beings going about the unexceptional business of their own lives, have earned comparisons with the works of the great American writer Raymond Carver.

Indeed, Vlautin’s writing is so acclaimed that it’s been making waves in literature as well as music. His novels have not only received glowing verdicts from the critics, but have acquired a cult following on both sides of the Atlantic and have won several literary awards.

And, as with one of Vlautin’s books, Richmond Fontaine’s music requires attention. Released earlier this month, the group’s latest record – The High Country – centres around a shy mechanic’s love for an unhappily married counter girl in a rural logging community. This overarching narrative is told through the medium of romantic ballads, spoken word, cinematic instrumentals and garage rock in an artistic fusion that would make even Tom Waits blush.

So it’s fair to say there’s a fair bit of talent on show here. But how about energy? Well, the fact they’re booked for 18 gigs in 18 days on this UK tour goes a long way to describing the passion these guys have for performing live. Covering everywhere between here and Brighton in less than three weeks is no mean feat, it has to be said. And yet after an 8,000 mile journey to these shores from their base in Portland, Oregon, Richmond Fontaine clearly think it’s more than enough time to get around a country of a smaller size than their state.

Tonight, Glasgow should show Richmond Fontaine how much it loves music with heaps of talent and energy, because this band certainly has both bases covered.