Erin Rae returned to Scotland this week to play a venue she described onstage as one of her favourites, a place that lives up to its sweet name, The Hug and Pint. A cosy crowd of people gathered in their basement room, ready to embrace the understated musical beauty of this special singer songwriter.
Opening the show were two promising local talents: A Maxwell and Caitlin Buchanan. Maxwell’s strong voice and confident stage manner made his set an enjoyable start to the evening. Next up was Caitlin Buchanan, who admitted to the crowd that her mum didn’t like her songs much, and their eerie intensity and sonic unpredictability certainly could be challenging for some. Anyone listening to this set though, couldn’t have failed to be impressed by her gothic wail of a voice. Perhaps neither of these two acts entirely fitted with the style of the headliner but the talent on display still offered good value for the ticket price.
In contrast to the loud solo openers, Erin performed her songs quietly, despite having a full band (Erin’s producer Jerry Bernhardt provided sparkling support on guitar throughout the show). Her sublime sound conveyed a real sense of power, like gently falling snowflakes eventually forming an avalanche. The majority of the set consisted of songs from her recent album Putting on Airs (read my review here), with highlights including the beautiful Mississippi Queen and Bad Mind, which she wrote in support of her aunt who was subject to horrific discrimination as a lesbian mother in the 90s.
The crowd cheered in solidarity when Erin introduced Wild Blue Wind as being a song about mental health, reminding us that many countries in the world are not as progressive as Scotland in understanding and treating such devastating problems. Later she also played Crazy Talk from her debut E.P., both songs displaying the keen sense of empathy and thoughtfulness so woven into her storytelling.
Sad news of Burt Reynolds death was announced by Erin during the gig, which led to her performing a cover of If Hollywood Don’t Need You (Honey, I Still Do) by Don Williams. I was unfamiliar with the song but its lyrics were a perfect tribute to the actor. Erin finished the set on another ‘low’, treating us to the melancholic wonder of Can’t Cut Loose. Sometimes sad songs like these just soothe so much.
It was so great to hear how appreciative Erin was at having the opportunity to tour the U.K., and the crowd felt equally blessed. The intimate nature of the venue and the show made me think of a line from the opening track to her album: how small we are in the grand scheme; how great.
Upcoming Shows: https://www.erinraemusic.com/tour
All photographs by Mike Ozmond, shared with kind permission.