A quick look through the excellent Setlist.fm reveals that true to her word it’s been a while since Emma Pollock played Edinburgh (nine years to be precise) so no surprise that on the back of her astonishing new album it’s a sell out.
(In Search of Harperfield is surely the hot favourite to win this year’s Scottish Album of the Year and I’d tip it for a Mercury nomination to boot.)
What we experience will have to wait for a moment because, first, I want to put in a mildly nepotous hurrah for Hamish James Hawk who performs as support sans-band, but whips up a great noise nevertheless. This young man has talent and if he maintains his man of many faces approach and outstanding, between songs, rhetoric he’ll have the audience in his hands for years to come.
This is no ordinary gig. Like Hawk, who’s acoustic guitar she borrows for a substitute RM Hubbard number (Monster in the Pack), she has a gift for storytelling. Surely nobody in the 300 strong audience could fail to be moved by her description of how Intermission came about – how she drove back and forth from Glasgow to Dumfries visiting her parents both ill, in different hospitals, during a spell of beautiful Scottish weather.
They both prevailed.
Her self deprecation is triumphantly engaging as she ineptly changes instruments throughout the gig with guitar straps proving what would be, to others, gig killers but, to her, props on the road to her stand up career.
But it’s her songs and her remarkable voice, aided by extraordinarily good sound and a superb band, that makes this such a profoundly great musical evening. Not a moment is wasted and her range is fully extended with highlights that include Red Orange Green, Alabaster, Clemency and my personal highlightt, Dark Skies, from the brilliant stage play Whatever Gets You Through The Night (it reminded me that I must go to the Galloway Forest Park sometime).
Emma Pollock is not a prolific performer so it was a real treat to see her perform in my home town. It would appear that she must be big in Spain because she’s going gig crazy there in April. And she may or may not be up to something special in the Festival. I can only guess because she’d have had to kill herself if she told us.
But a whiff of anticipation smothered the room.