Tae Sup at The Queen's Queen's Hall Edinburgh 18th March 2023 Review
Tae Sup at The Queen’s tonight at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh moved from its usual home at the far more informal newer performance space in the venue to the main hall to feature music old and new from Horse, Me For Queen (aka Mary Erskine) and Finn Anderson.
If you are not familiar with “Tae Sup at The Queen’s”, it is an ongoing collaborative musical project curated and presented by singer-songwriter James Yorkston, who was also performing on stage this evening with some of his own songs as well as introducing the musical line-up. The performance line up for “Tae Sup at The Queen’s” is a constantly changing one, and this one was very much a Fife musical collective effort as everyone on stage has their roots there. Also, everyone had also been involved in coming together and exchanging ideas, writing new songs in a recent creative workshop/writers’ experience in Fife with some new collaborative works which came out of this experience being performed live on stage tonight. In truth, “Tae Sup wi' a Fifer at The Queen’s” was perhaps the better name for this show.
I always like projects like this one because it lets me experience music by songwriters/performers that I would otherwise miss, and this one introduced me to three new creative people. For some reason, despite having been around for so long on the music circuit and having created so much over the years, I have totally missed the songs of James Yorkston, and two older songs (amongst others performed), “St Patrick” and “The Year of The Leopard” were for me fine introductions to how James works with words in his songs.
The music of Finn Anderson made an instant connection with me as there was with songs like “River Won’t Wait” and “Skin” that sense of being taken into a tranquil space that was somehow connecting to nature and to the inner self of each of us. Nature, harmony, trees, self-awareness, private spaces, special moments…all of these are recurring themes in the songs of Finn Anderson and for a moment or two each song invites you to enter these places and moments in time with him.
Me For Queen (aka Mary Erskine) is obviously a songwriter drawn in many different directions and this evening offered only glimpses of different facets of her talent including the new collaborative song with Horse – “Super Powers”.
For many people in the audience tonight, the musical highlight was of course Horse, and a very stripped back set performed only on acoustic guitar in the second half of this show was a treat for fans this evening. I have seen Horse perform many times, heard many of these songs many times, but somehow this set stripping these songs of their usual live performance/band arrangements or often multi-layered studio production sounds brought a simplicity to them that let their true creativity shine through.
With a set opening with the very first single “You Could Be Forgiven” and moving onto songs from her second album “God’s Home Movie”, (now celebrating its 30th year), songs like this title track, and “Years From Now” reminded everyone of just how special this album, and the first one “The Same Sky”, really were, and how different these songs were from anything else around them at the time. Also of course what outstanding songs the partnership of Horse and Angela McAlinden was capable of creating together.
There have of course been many more songs over the years from Horse and new songs to be featured on the coming album “The Road Less Travelled” were also featured tonight, and songs like this title track and “The Moon and I” clearly show that whether inspiration is taken from inside of one self or from watching the moon above us, one face forever facing us as it is locked in an eternal tidal lock embrace with the earth, that Horse is as creative with her music now as she has ever been.
There are many reasons why Horse and her music touch so many people who listen to them so deeply, and as always when I watch Horse take to the stage, one of those reasons is always obvious, and that is honesty, both in these songs and in communicating with people directly. These songs often give people strength and hope when they need it most and perhaps the reason for this is that they so often touch upon what we all hope for and are all afraid of (if we are honest) in our all too short a visit to this world. It is not actually our own passing from this world that frightens many of us, we have been prepared for that since taking our very first breaths, no, it is often that fear of losing the people that we love and care about and, along the way finding ourselves alone in this world is what we are most scared of.
Often these deepest of our fears and how fragile we can all be at times are touched upon in the words of Horse’s music, and one song over the years has become so iconic, so part of Horse that the two are now almost inseparable on-stage, and that song is of course “Careful”. Does anyone actually write a song like this that touches so many people, means so much to others? Honestly, I don’t think that they do, instead they are “gifts” given to them by something or someone beyond the layers of reality that we can normally perceive. Somehow, with a song like “Careful” the writer is little more than a conduit for something just out of our everyday reach.
Another song that is fast becoming as identifiable with Horse is “Leaving” and sometimes, just not to be alone we find ourselves putting up with situations that are often not in our best interests in the longer terms, but getting the courage to leave and be alone can be difficult; it takes strength and this song gives strength to many people who need it, perhaps not to leave, perhaps just to be strong enough to stand up for themselves a little better and just say “no more of this”.
As always, at the end of a show, that very special relationship between Horse and her many fans continues as time is always taken out to have a chat and that photo taken.
A quick reminder too that Horse will be out on tour with her band and strings later in the year and returning to The Queen’s Hall on Friday November 3rd.
Review by Tom King © 2023