A review of Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo with support by Chris T-T at the Ironworks, Inverness on Saturday the 19th of October, 2013.
Ironworks had brought the musicians to the audience on Saturday night as is sometimes the case with the less raucous of the performers. The stage was moved to the floor so tonight’s acts were on the same level as the audience and this helps to give the night a more intimate and cosy feel.
Support this evening was provided by Chris T-T. Originally from Brighton he has 15 years gigging under his belt with recent performances at the Edinburgh Festival to list in his recent palamares. He’s a varied performer and we were treated to anything from songs sung acapella or with his guitar and keyboard. He’s a witty chap and his wry takes on life were lapped up by an appreciative audience. Songs included the title track to his album ‘The Bear’ and two AA Milne poems set to music, ‘Halfway Down’ and ‘Market Square’.
Talent and Soul
Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo opened with ‘Dear River’ from the new album of the same name. The Australian native may not be a household name and this is a real pity. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you know that millions are lapping up the utter dross on the X Factor yet musicians who have vastly more talent and soul in their little finger than a whole series of Cowell’s acolytes are quietly getting on with it and writing some truly powerful music.
She’s written two TV themes and the first of these ‘Pause’ (“not actually a song about corruption in the force”) was used for BBC2’s Shadow Line and also won her an Ivor Novello award for best TV soundtrack. Backing band The Red Clay Halo accompanied with some truly haunting harmonies and my word did the hair in the back of my neck stand up. One of those songs that I really did not want to end. The second song as used in a popular cop drama (Wallander) was ‘Nostalgia’ and you quickly realise why it was chosen. Another slow, thoughtful number you could almost the feel the rain pattering down on your rain coat as you roam the street searching for crims….
Not shy of tackling her heritage she told us that ‘Spadeful of Ground’ was in recognition of the way that the Australian Aboriginal people had been treated by the European settlers.
This is something that she clearly feels strongly about and explained that the land was stolen from them and what an injustice this was.
Latest single Ghost Narrative was given an airing as was another particularly haunting tune ‘Letters’. This was about her grandfather who fought in the Second World War and had to hide out on the German/Netherlands border for two years. A commentary that home is not necessarily about a piece of land but the friends and family who surround you.
Chris TT returned to duet on a storming version of ‘Fields of June’, originally recorded with Frank Turner, it’s a murder ballad where the unfortunate husband of the piece ends up buried in a field.
The only downside was that the set felt a little short, clocking in at just over an hour, but in fairness to Emily she packed in the tunes and the quality more than made up for it.