Kicking off her Scottish Songbook with Whole of The Moon, Karine Polwart and her well-versed band performed to a packed out Spiegeltent in Paisley’s County Square as part of the annual Spree Festival. Since the release of her LP back in August, she has taken her Scottish Songbook on tour performing Scottish classics up and down the country. There was a great sense of appreciation in Paisley for this gig, a real reminder of the great tracks from Scotland.

With a time span of over fifty years, Karine and her band, which consisted of Paisley’s Graeme Smillie, Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott and Inge Thomson, blew the crowds away with their medley of tracks, some more contemporary (Chvrches’ The Mother We Share and an Emeli Sande track were both in her set list) and others taking us back. Following on from Chvrches, they pulled out an Altered Images classic, I Could Be Happy, offering as much enthusiasm as Clare Grogan recently did at the Rip It Up Live gig at Aberdeen’s True North Festival. Inge Thomson performing Liz Fraser’s vocal on Massive Attack’s Teardrop was a key highlight, as was the band’s cover of Ivor Cutler’s Women of the World. Interjected with audio clippings from the more recent protests of our times, there was a relativity nod, with some of these tracks.

As was done with the Celtic Connections gig at the Old Fruitmarket earlier in the year, the Eurythmics Here Comes The Rain Again was fused with Brodski Beat’s Smalltown Boy, seemless and stunningly adapted. If nothing else, Karine certainly highlights the breadth of talent that has come out of this small country. The Big Dish, The Blue Nile, Big Country, John Martyn, The Associates were all woven into her eclectic set, which saw many of the musicians hopping about to perform different instruments or indeed take their vocal to the front. Scott Hutchison was given a worthy dedication, as they took up their instruments to perform Swim Until You Can’t See Land, a stunning cover. Their second to last cover, Talking Head’s Road to Nowhere was freshly attached to Boris Johnson and our political manoeuvrings of late, and concluding the evening with Gerry Rafferty’s Night and Day reminded Paisley of it’s own inspiring musicians.

Celebrating classic Scottish talent, whilst also shining a light on the contemporary work, as well as the stunning aptitiude of those in her six-piece band, nothing but a lovely night can come from this fantastic endeavour of Karine’s.

Photo courtesy of David Wilkinson

For more on Paisley’s Spree Festival click here.