Gig Review: Emma Pollock/Popup/Katie Sutherland
Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh
May 14, 2007
It had been a somewhat trying day at school (I teach some of my most, uh, ‘challenging’ classes on a Monday) and one of the things that was getting me through was the thought of going to see Ms. Pollock. I was certainly not disappointed.
The first act of the evening was 19 year old Katie Sutherland. I’ve commented before on this, but sometimes you see Singer-Songwriters appearing solo as the support act to a crowd who ignore them. Ms. Sutherland managed to shush everyone very quickly. Perfectly content to sing in her natural accent, the warmth won us all over so quickly with her own songs like ‘Lower Ground’ and ‘Because I Do.’ There’s an endearing honesty but without the painful over-earnestness that renders so many singer-songwriters of both sexes as just one of the crowd. Katie Sutherland is an original. Her voice blew me, and indeed the soon-to-be Mrs. 17 Seconds away. She’s just about to take a break from university for a few years to try and make a career in music, which she plays a snog ‘Mr. Lecturer’ about. I catch a brief word with her afterwards, and she’s a lovely person who should be giving Isobel Campbell and KT Tunstall a run for their money very, very soon, if there’s any justice. She’s currently unsigned but please, please, PLEASE go to her MySpace, hear her songs, make friends with her -and if you live in Scotland, go and see her.
Blown away as I am by Katie Sutherland, Popup were going to have a lot to live up to. Singer Michale Cross has got a wonderfully thick scottish accent (put it this way – and this is meant as a compliment – he makes Aidan Moffat sound like he speaks with a ‘received pronounciation’ accent). Musically, it’s harder to place them – at first, I think they’re going to be like Arab Strap…then discover I’ve been led astray by his vocals, and they are nothing like that. They go down a rocky avenue that I find hard to get into, but towards the end of their set, when I’m finding i could grow to love thme after all, the reference that springs to mind is the wedding Present.
[Please note, in an attempt to allow her to move on, I will not mention Emma Pollock’s former band. This is no mean feat, given that they are my favourite scottish band ever.]
Emma Pollock wanders on, looking wonderfully relaxed. The ten song set she plays, to a welcoming crowd, takes no songs from her former band, and instead I find very, very quickly that I cannot wait for September and her debut Watch The Fireworks. This is coming out on 4AD, and watching her, I am reminded, yet again, that Emma Pollock is every bit as much an icon as many of those who appeared on that label – Kristin Hersh, Tanya Donelly, Kim Deal et al.. The songs have a lot of piano influence on them, but Pollock’s guitar playing is just as assured. She does ‘Limbs’ with just her and the pianist, and it’s gorgeous. future single ‘Paper and Glue’ and current single ‘Adrenaline’ should be there in those end of year polls. Like, at the top of them, not no. 23 or whatever.
The scottish indie scene has a reputation for being shambolic. Yet Emma Pollock makes light of any moments – I have seen artists of far less stuature go ballistic over the slightest thing, yet she’s not bothered by the roadie who didn;t leave her any plectrums. She has a great repartee that makes us all laugh, talking about how they drove up to do a gig in Aberdeen on Saturday, only to discover the venue was closed.
She encored with ‘The Optimist’, and it’s clear just how brilliant the album should be, and just how damn fine a live act she remains. ‘That was amazing,’ whispers the soon-to-be Mrs. 17 seconods, as we head out the door. It was. come back to edinburgh soon, please.
Emma Pollock’s single Adrenaline can be downloaded from iTunes now, and will be out on 7″ next week (UK anyway).
For now, try this:
Emma Pollock -‘Limbs.’ mp3
Read the Edinburgh Evening News’ review here, if you’re interested