The Jazz Bar August 27th 2017
Man I really don’t know where to start with this review. Every single fibre of my being was yelling ‘don’t go to this show as it could be a train wreck’. There are certain albums which are just above everything else by such a huge margin that you don’t touch them under any circumstances. Think, for example, of Graceland, Dark Side Of The Moon, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, Thriller or even Pet Sounds. It took Brian Wilson himself to finally do justice to his own master piece so what the heck could we expect from two, and to be absolutely fair, well respected stalwarts of the Edinburgh music scene? Raising Sand is, by any measurement, a modern classic and it was with much trepidation that I ended my 2017 Fringe experience with this early afternoon performance of this unique album. Ok so cutting to the chase, good as they are, Kirsten Adamson and Paul Gilbody are no Alison Krauss or Robert Plant. Had they tried to copy and emulate those giants of our business with the honey-sweet, almost saccharine tones of Alison and the rough grained whispered delivery of Robert’s vocals then I would have been very worried. Instead, surrounded by a band consisting of Ru Stewart drums, Tom Lyne upright bass, Alan Train guitar/pedal steel guitar/banjo and Lewis Rumney guitar/violin/BVs they tackled Raising Sand with so much reverence and total respect that I was completely captivated. I could spend a lot of time and wasted energy dissecting all the subtle and nuanced elements of the album so that frankly you would have shut down reading before long. Instead I will say simply that by staying true to their own musical Celtic heritage and vocal qualities these two top quality musicians and their band infused Raising Sand with plenty textures anew whilst staying true to the spirit of the original album. This was a tribute in every sense of the word and not just a copy. Vocal blending was right out of the top drawer. Due to the tight venue time slot there was no messing about on stage. A fifty seven minute album was fitted in to the hour slot and so there was little banter coming off the stage to the audience. This had the effect of concentrating your attention solely on the music with all of its glorious subtleties. The front of house sound was superb and crystal clear allowing the lead vocals to shine and fill our hearts. Kirsten and Paul’s vocals just kind of nicely nudged up against each other throughout with neither seeking to outdo the other. It was almost like hearing a musical courtship so sensuous was the singing. I’m sure that you will be fully aware of the tracks but on the day Killing The Blues, Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us, Through The Morning Through The Night, Trampled Rose, Fortune Teller, Please Read The Letter and Your Long Journey with only an auto harp missing were, for me, highlights. I said before that Kirsten and Paul were no Alison or Robert but, whilst that is true, that is like saying today’s Vienna Philharmoniker are not as good as those who went before. Hogwash! Music is always subjective and this was music played today at the highest level with all the love and attention to detail which the material deserved. Well done to all concerned and I’d love to sit and enjoy this again in the future. Absolutely brilliant!