Record Overplayed
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Tom McRae | Northumbria Uni | 23/02/03

McRae of Sunshine

Gig Review by Dawn


From the moment the lights went down, you could sense the anticipation at the knowledge that we were about to witness something rather special. And from the moment he walked onstage, a smartly-dressed figure clutching an acoustic guitar, the audience were hanging on Tom McRae’s every word, be it spoken or sung. The enthusiastic applause which greeted his arrival immediately ceased to leave a respectful silence as he took his place centre-stage and, as his four-piece band began to play, Tom’s voice effortlessly filled the room, sounding as crisp, as clear and as note-perfect as on record.

Set against the red velvet backdrop and bathed in a suitably mysterious blue glow, there was something magical about the whole night as Tom worked his way through album tracks old and new, throwing in exquisite B-side Streetlight along the way.

Smiling wryly and with tongue firmly in cheek, he fully acknowledged that his music could be viewed as falling into the stereotypical ‘miserable singer-songwriter’ category; five songs into his set, he greeted us, ‘Welcome to “Laugh Along With Tom”!’ and he introduced several songs with the words, ‘this is another happy one’. But while other singer-songwriters’ honest lyrics are too depressing to be enjoyable, Tom’s words are so endearingly heartfelt that you immediately forget how he himself labelled his new album ‘all gloom and doom’.

Towards the end of the evening, Tom thanked the crowd and stated that it was made up of ‘all the beautiful and intelligent people’ and, indeed, the show was a somewhat classy affair compared to some the venue has probably seen; how often do you see a cello player onstage at a gig these days? The presence of strings was particularly effective on the stunningly dramatic Karaoke Soul and on new track Mermaid Blues to recreate the eerie echoes of the ocean even more breathtakingly than on the album.

However, the undisputed highlight of the night was Tom’s solo rendition of the beautiful Bloodless. As a thank you to the appreciative crowd, he sacrificed his band and the PA system to perform the track entirely acoustically as he perched at the front of the stage, his soaring voice sending shivers down the spines of the spellbound spectators.

Solo singer-songwriters are ten-a-penny. But make no mistake: Tom McRae has something rather special.

Huge thanks to Mark at Wild. Tom’s stunning album Just Like Blood is out now. See www.TomMcRae.com for more details.

 

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