- Edinburgh Playhouse

I am so excited I might wet myself. I have had to go to the toilet twice since arriving. I have been looking forward to this concert since I moved to Edinburgh. I wish I could say the same for New Yorker Sarabeth Tucek. Standing centre stage and sporting the largest puff sleeves known to man, she is possibly the most bored person in the room (at least, at first). Which is a real shame. Because the lack of passion in her performance quells the real passion in her music which unfortunately just shimmers in the background this evening. You'd think she'd be happier really; she's extremely beautiful and she's just completed her eponymous debut album which was co-produced by Ethan Johns (the guy who twiddled the knobs of Kings of Leon and Ryan Adams) and Luther Russell (who has worked with Richmond Fontaine and is also filling in on guitar duties, actually having a far more important presence for his bendy legs, impressive beard and amazing musicianship). I'd even forgive her as she drawls the immortal sin "You're a poet, don't you know it" like it's the coolest thing we should have heard all year, if she'd only crack a smile. Her record may be a better bet for checking out her folk-tinged alternative rock. I would recommend some tracks but she didn't say a word. Just as well I know then that her single "Something for you" is rather good anyway. And when she brings on a bass player to contribute to "Holy smoke" it makes it so much more worthwhile.

And so. Did I mention I am excited about seeing Ray Lamontagne? By the time he appears, I have already told the bald bloke's mistress next to me that I am completely obsessed with his beard and want to take him home (Ray, not the bald bloke). I also apologise in advance for any strange sounds I might make during the performance. I can't help it. As a musician, this guy is one of the best artists of his generation and he blows me away like I knew he would. Touching, stunning and completely inspiring, a set that starts with an upbeat "How come" continues into the realms of total admiration as, against the backdrop of the gorgeous old theatre we are in, Mr Lamongtagne's powerful vocal at times delivers a blow to the gut (as he refreshingly snarls "I won't be around") and then tickles us under the chin in a soothing, teasing kind of way (almost "I know how good I am and I'm not leaving until everyone in the room wants me to sit at the foot of their bed, or in it, depending on their sexual persuasion, and sing them to sleep"). Job done, sir. Featuring a backing band to match the songs in beauty, particularly the bassist who is in, ahem, seventh heaven when he hit the high notes, and an equally impressive light show, I couldn't choose a personal highlight. I could tell you, though, that I wept all over the velour seats during "Burn", "Forever my friend" and "Jolene". I almost start up again when he brings out his harmonica on the second encore for a solo "All the wild horses". Notoriously shy, and therefore completely adorable as well as extremely talented, he faces away from the audience and doesn't speak much but, with a voice like that, I, for one, couldn't care less. In fact, all that needs saying is that what just happened was one of the most amazing shows I have ever, ever witnessed and I'm now completely obsessed.

Super thanks to Rob Dix and Caroline Beashel of 14th Floor PR for being amazing and getting us into the gig. But quadruple that for Jen who brought the Christmas tissues!

Anna C

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