Tom McRae - All Maps Welcome Tour 2005
Musicians Elena Tom McRae (guitar and vocals); Greg Sanchez (keyboards); Ash Soan (drums); Oli Kraus (Cello);
John Hogg (bass guitar); Guest: Kevin Devine (singer-songwriter)
Date 11 November 2005
Venue Liquid Room
Address 9c Victoria Street
Reviewer Julian Davis
© Michel Vonlanthen
On a night when gales swept the Central Belt of Scotland, Tom McRae breezed
into Edinburgh on the last leg of his British tour - and as one of 5 additional
dates. If Edinburgh was an afterthought, then the packed venue justified the
change of mind.
To a burst from the smoke generator, the gig opened with Tom singing Mermaid Blues unaccompanied; a little like the Napster session recording but even more as plainsong. Then as the band assembled, they sank into a very atmospheric version of Karaoke Soul. With three albums and a Mercury nomination behind him, Tom could afford to play a full selection from each issue. From the self-titled first album Tom McRae came the sing-along End of the world news (dose me up), the very noisy a&b song almost convincing me that Oli's cello was on fire from the hard bowing, the Language of fools, and the lovely laid back Sao Paulo rain.
From the less desolate second album Just like blood, we were privileged to hear the disturbingly beautiful Walking 2 Hawaii in addition to the second number of the evening. Offerings from the third and most melodic to date album, All maps welcome, included some great guitar work on How the west was won, It ain't you, the bleak For the restless, and some more brilliant cello work on the emblematic Hummingbird song with its hook line Would you fly or would you sing.
The predictable but nevertheless well-deserved call for an encore gave the audience another chance to air their vocal chords on 2nd law (from the first album) and the chilling lyrics of the album title song, Bloodless, which still raises a shiver with You choose your side but in the fight I see your blood run white. The promising young American singer-songwriter Kevin Devine joined the line-up to reciprocate the band backing his last song of the warm-up session for some very close harmonies on a song not yet recorded and may never be.
Oli Kraus and Tom McRae
The long-neglected Edinburgh audience had still not satisfied their appetite
and bayed for more; and more they eventually got. Tom came back solo and with
a birthday dedication to an absent friend gave a soulful rendition of Vampire
heart before managing to coax the rest of the band back onto stage for The
boy with the bubble gun - and another chance to sing-along with a reprise
of End of the world news to which the audience gave full-throated support.
Tom's recollection of his first gig: he thought was in Edinburgh or Aberdeen; I think it was the gig in Glasgow 6th April 2001 supporting Dido. The unanimous call was for a swift return. I hope he does; he seemed visibly moved at the warmth of the reception and the response of the Edinburgh faithful. The lyrical qualities of his songs make pleasant reading on their own but the haunting melodies rival anything that bands like Keane and Coldplay are producing. It is the work of an artist with his heart, his thoughts and his fears fully fixed to his sleeve. To misquote the Independent after the release of his first album "if you missed this, it's your loss!" Who's P J Harvey? Never mind, just pass the malt.
© Julian Davis. 16/11/2005. Published on www.edinburghguide.com