Will Varley’s humour and quirky style make him a hard man to interview him, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. His show is a whirlwind and his live performance brings a thrilling new element to his already wonderful music.
I arrived to interview Will Varley at King Tut’s at 17:30, five hours before he actually took to the legendary Glasgow stage. Once Varley arrived – carrying his own guitar, twenty minutes late – I went up to his dressing room with my colleague Patrick to help on camera. Varley was instantly warm and friendly, as was his tour manager, with the two of them pitching the concept of a reverse interview as we set up.
Once Varley had sound checked, we went about interviewing him in one of the surrealist and toughest interviews for a while. His lyrics and style of music mirror his speech quite closely, making it difficult to stay on topic. However, after the initial realisation of how difficult the edit will be, it was impossible not to enjoy Varley’s sense of humour and honest answers.
Once the interview was completed we sat with Will Varley and his tour manager Stewart for a while being entertained. The two clearly get on very well and it is impossible not to want to spend hours listening to Varley. The stories he tells would have made great little interview clips – I will be borrowing some to tell others myself – and the time flew by in the dressing room.
Eventually, we left the dressing room and waited for the gig to begin with a pint of the famous King Tut’s lager and a pizza.
The gig started at 20:30, two hours before the headliner took to the stage. The first two local support acts were impressive to listen to, but didn’t exactly steal the show. Both played a haunting style of acoustic music which was very easy on the ear, but not particularly unique.
The tour support, Xylaroo, a sister duo from London, were brilliant. Having talked to them before the stage, they seemed good, but not totally sure of their own act, something I hope changes. Although their stage presence was not yet complete, their musical ability was mind-blowing. Their beautiful harmonies worked brilliantly, particularly during a cover of I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor (Arctic Monkeys) – a rival to the original.
Finally at 22:30, as part of a well oiled schedule, Will Varley took to the stage, opening with an amusing song which captured everything that his music stands for. A ballad to the one man, one guitar tradition. Despite the best attempts of a couple of extremely drunk hecklers (and fans), Varley held the stage all night. He took the best parts of his charismatic speech and the best parts of his musical ability to pull his crowd through a range of emotions – political to comical and everything inbetween.
Although Varley’s songs are beautiful and soulful on record, he takes them to a new level live on stage. His raw style is quite wonderful to watch and the power of his performance on many of his classics, such as King for a King, got the crowd moving and singing.
Will Varley is a great singer and player – his records are great – but you’ve not experienced him until you see him live.
Image credit: Ben Morse