Where You’re Meant To Be

By chance – or as much as this could ever be by chance – I find myself watching a second Chemikal Underground-related documentary in two days. This one follows Aidan Moffat, former Arab Strap singer, as he seeks to reinterpret a number of traditional Scottish folk songs, bringing them up to date with lyrics about bloodied, fighting neds, text messages, cheap sex and so on, and mainly performing them in the unfamiliar environs of small rural clubs where many of the patrons prefer the originals. He runs into opposition and hostility from some crowds, and also from the late Sheila Stewart, a traditional folk singer, who fiercely defends the original songs, which she has been singing all her life and predate her by hundreds of years. It’s a thoroughly interesting documentary that pits the old against the new, tradition against modernity, and even the countryside against the city, but ultimately finds common ground between it all and plenty of life left in the old ditties. Moffat’s self-deprecating style – which seems to stay the same whether he’s on stage or off – is a treat; he’s a very smart and very funny guy. A lovely watch. (****)