SAINT SAVIOUR / PLUM @ SNEAKY PETE’S, EDINBURGH – 30/10/2012

SAINT SAVIOUR – FIRST NIGHT OF UK TOUR 2012

It was Halloween in Edinburgh and we were down in the dark and murky depths of The Cowgate – well maybe not quite as dark and murky now as it had been back in the 1970s when I first started to frequent the building now known as ‘Sneaky Pete’s’, as The Cowgate now plays host to many vibrant ‘watering holes’ and excellent options to enjoy a night out.

I had been looking forward to this night ever since I first saw the schedule for Saint Saviour’s UK tour a number of weeks ago.

For somebody who has previously graced the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury with her presence as part of Groove Armada, the ‘up close and personal’ venue hidden away under Edinburgh’s George IV Bridge was certainly a different world. I had previously been mesmerised by her in there once before and expected nothing less this time.

The absolutely delightful and impressive Plum took to the stage to warm up the growing audience, she had fully entered into the Halloween spirit with her pink wig and cape, but when she set the electronics in motion she proved to be no gimmick! With a laptop and associated ‘black boxes’ she put on a veritable ‘one woman band’ performance as clearly observed by an enthusiastic and ‘starstruck’ audience member next to me! She proved her instrumental credentials during a couple of songs by playing her acoustic guitar and then bass, leaving no doubt that she had prepared her own samples and base tracks. The strength of her performance as far as I was concerned was her skill in co-ordinating all the different electronic input devices to provide her accompaniment. Her clear enjoyment of being on stage was infectious, then all too soon her set was over. During her performance I had observed that her microphone level was a touch to low and suspected that we weren’t getting the full benefit of her vocal abilities. After she had finished I bought a copy of her CD which we listened to as we travelled back into the Scottish Borders countryside later, and the quality of that recording did prove that her voice is every bit as impressive as the other elements of her set.

During the brief stage rearrangement I, rather selfishly, experienced my only slight disappointment of the evening when the house engineer switched off the overhead lighting and I realised that I was not well enough equipped to capture many clear photographic images – but that was a purely selfish thought!

The up-lighting option selected simply enhanced the atmosphere of the evening, and when the set began with the evocative cello and guitar as a prelude to Saint Saviour’s divine voice, I suspect that most of the audience felt that it was less a case of ‘Here In Me’, actually being closer to ‘here in heaven on earth’! Perhaps the next song was aimed at dispelling any quasi-religious feelings – ‘This Ain’t No Hymn’ raised the tempo up few notches and continued to showcase her tremendous vocal skills. She masterfully coped with the practical difficulties of discovering that the microphone stand wasn’t keen to co-operate; at one point she looked distinctly uncomfortable whilst continuing to play the keyboard and sing. The Halloween gremlins were clearly determined and the electronic drum pad was reluctant to respond as it should have done. The perfection of the music, however, continued to enthral and impress.

Despite her obvious talents and skills, her demeanour when introducing songs came as quite a contrast as she appeared to be rather self-effacing, although later in the set she dealt effortlessly with one heckler with a well-delivered reminder that it was only “a Wednesday evening” in her very lovely broad ‘Teesside accent’. Intros aside, her stage presence continues to be impressive and commanding; she is much more than just a singer/keyboard player, with her dance moves providing an additional dimension to fully captivate the live experience.

A very pleasing and faster-paced version of old favourite ‘Fallen Trees’ followed which led on to ‘I Call This Home’. The set had simply sped by; was it a case of ‘time flying when you’re enjoying yourself’ or perhaps the difficulties with microphone stand had led to a couple of numbers being omitted, I was so mesmerised I don’t suppose I’ll ever be 100% certain and I certainly hadn’t been keeping a track of the time. A return to stage for an encore and a final attempt to deal with the offending microphone stand was the prelude to a very moving rendition of the evocative ‘Reasons’ followed by the much more upbeat cover of Souixie & the Banshees’ ‘Happy House’.

Not only was I privileged to have experienced the start of Saint Saviour’s UK Tour, the appearance in ‘Sneaky Pete’s’ was the only Scottish date; she now moves back south of the border and will be entrancing audiences around England during what will be a very busy three week period.

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