It was a joy to witness the spectacular Milky Way in the crystal clear night sky as I stood at the side of a busy A1 with traffic speeding by. It was also a pleasant change not to have to drive myself across Scotland, and on schedule a ‘flying pixie’ pulled over to let me in. After an event free journey we arrived at the legendary ‘King Tut’s’ in Glasgow. Just over a year previously I had been present when Sandi Thom picked up her awards at the inaugural ‘Scottish New Music Awards’; now I was with a colleague meeting her ahead of her gig. Once the interview was concluded we witnessed the bulk of support act Carrie Mac’s set. At times solo, at others accompanied by a keyboard player, Carrie delivered an impressive and confident performance. She was clearly enjoying herself on stage as she entranced the audience with her soulful and emotive voice. With only limited previous experience of hearing her I was very impressed by her mature and engaging performance. Her mesmerising chilled version of ‘A Little Respect’, a single release from earlier this year, was a true joy to experience.
I found myself chatting to a Canadian couple, currently living in Aberdeen, who were eagerly awaiting the performance; they told me that they last live act they saw had been Lady GaGa, so quite a change for them to be in such an intimate venue. As the audience rearranged itself during the break we managed to get to the front as we waited for Sandi and her band to begin – catching up with another couple who had also travelled from the south east of Scotland. Even from my very small ‘straw poll’ it was clear that the the evening had attracted people to travel from afar for their entertainment.
Then the lights went down and AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ started to boom out – signalling that something was about to happen! First the band, guitar, bass, drum, keyboard and backing singer took to the stage, then Sandi and the show was under way. ‘Stormy Weather’ might have been the title of the song but this was one ‘storm’ I’m certain that everybody was thoroughly enjoying. Back in the mid ‘noughties’ she may have wished that she was a punk rocker with flowers in her hair, but her current output, as evidenced in Glasgow, is quite blues orientated, but very much delivered with her own personal stamp – no generic re-cycling here.
The packed audience listened intently and showed their enthusiastic approval during breaks, some even engaging her in a dialogue which she obviously appreciated. The general atmosphere was wonderfully supportive and friendly. The band provided a richly textured backing to Sandi’s lead, and they too were clearly relishing their time on stage. It’s so good to be so close up to be able to see artists maintaining intent eye contact with each other in order to ensure a tight delivery. With the tour following the recent release of her latest album, much of the set comprised songs from it, and previous release ‘Merchants And Thieves’, but she did incorporate a few others including her seminal ‘I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)’, a song with local guest hip-hop duo Shy & DRS, and a truly heartfelt version of ‘I Need Your Love So Bad’ delivered from the floor right in front of the audience, before closing with the title track from ‘Flesh And Blood’ followed by ‘Runaway Train’ as an encore.
All too soon we were navigating our way back onto the M8, and after managing to avoid being side-swiped by a rogue taxi we were ‘winging’ our way back to the east coast.