When it comes to country & western, there’s no place like Glasgow’s version of the Grand Ole Opry. Complete with low-priced alcohol, Confederate flags and chuck wagon, it soon becomes hard to believe that it is located in Govan. Or does it? Last night it played host to Jericho Hill, a local act who gave a pretty convincing re-enactment of Johnny Cash’s “At Folsom Prison” album. At first I thought Barlinnie might have been a more appropriate venue, but they have the wrong kind of bars in there, don’t they?
Clips from the album (including Carl Perkins doing “Blue Suede Shoes”) were played over the PA as needed, giving an authentic feel to the experience. The band, throughout, were playing the part in every sense, dressing appropriately and coping well with the accents required. Billy Wright - or Mr Cash as he was for the evening - may bear greater resemblance to Hank Williams than Cash but few could fault his performance capturing Cash at his energetic best. There was also room for a little tenderness with Charlene Boyd proving a quite captivating June Carter. “Jackson” was one of the highlights of a terrific performance - but then, weren’t they all?
Not content with having satisfied us jailbirds, the band emerged for a second set; this time visiting all corners of the Johnny Cash songbook. From the early days (“Cry Cry Cry”) to Cash’s excellent retoolings of modern rock songs (as in Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”), the band were in jubilant form, and the audience reacted in kind. Given the reaction - and Cash’s repertoire - the band could have been, at worst, forgiven for playing all night long. Alas, the curse of employment and contemptible licensing laws strikes again, huh?
Fans of Johnny Cash - even those normally disinclined towards tribute acts - really should pay attention to Jericho Hill. Endless superlatives aside, there’s one sure thing with Jericho Hill: you’re pretty much guaranteed a good night out. What more can you ask for?