Susanna Macdonald live at The Big Red Door in Edinburgh
It takes something special to get a Bluesbunny into Edinbugger. The police over there behave like they've never seen a soap dodger before and follow you about. I even thought about asking one of them for directions to the Big Red Door but I reckoned I might get fitted up for every unsolved crime in the last year.
It turns out that the venue - the Big Red Door - is actually behind a big red door. There was I actually expecting it to be metaphorical too. It also turned out that it wasn't licensed either. A Bluesbunny without a bar is like an M.P. without a fraudulent expenses claim - it's just not natural. Anyway, the Big Red Door has an unusual ambience being part frathouse and part Saigon brothel and it is truly the kind of place that cries out for the blue haze of cigarette smoke and dull, red lighting.
All that is beside the point for Susanna Macdonald has taken to stage. She wears a top hat but she doesn't need that to draw your attention. Playing songs from her new album "Some Misconceptions" was no surprise but this was never going to be some perfunctory run through. Taking advantage of modern technology to bring her dramatic persona to life, she casts light into the dark shadows of cabaret with "The Birdwatcher" and even in the conventionality of "Kiss Like Poison", she brings depth where a lesser talent would settle for surface polish. Lest you think all this would be too artistic and inaccessible to the masses, Ms Macdonald's sense of humour shone through especially in "Here Come the Maniacs" - the cleverly looped tale of an insane journey along our beloved M8 to dear old Glasgow.
Ably supported by Paul Southall, Gavin Pringle and Rob Sproule-Cran, Ms Macdonald simply owned the room. Did she get an encore? Of course she did and she deserved it too.
To finish, someone once said Susanna Macdonald was a national treasure (actually it was me…) and they're right for she's got the songs and she knows how to put on a show like few others could. It is the way of reviewer to compare an act with a better known band but, one day soon, I reckon people will be comparing acts to Susanna Macdonald.
March 26 2010
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