The OneTouch Theatre
IRONICALLY for someone with such a uniquely powerful voice, Fife born singer Horse is still something of an unsung hero.
Over 20 years on from the release of "The Same Sky", one of the catchiest, smartest pop albums produced in Scotland and its follow up "God’s Home Movie", Horse still seems to be hoping for that elusive leap from cult heroine to mainstream success.
Forthcoming album "Home", with the intelligent heartfelt songs she previewed here, might be the one to do it, if Horse’s hopes for a product she is obviously very proud of are realised.
Failing that, as Horse joked, there is always "The X-Factor", which was holding its series final the same evening.
Thanking her audience for making the choice to join her and her band rather than watch the Simon Cowell endorsed wannabes, she added modestly: "We like to think we have the X-factor too."
She might be right.
Hampered by a slight cold, leading her to apologise in advance lest she "pebbledash" the front two rows, and occasionally puffing from an inhaler just a few weeks after being hospitalised by a severe asthma attack, this was perhaps not Horse in peak condition, but even a slightly under par Horse can still belt out a few unfeasibly powerful notes of an evening.
Noting that Morten Harket of A-ha holds the Guinness World Record for a single continuous note at 20.2 seconds, Horse pointed out that her personal record is in the region 23 and proceeded to show just how long she can hold a note for, cold or no.
Her neatly dressed band, and especially guitarist Gordon Turner, added a bit of musical muscle to Horse’s songs, so that even dealing with such downers of subject matter as broken hearts or death bed thoughts, they never succumbed to maudlin singer-songwriter introspection.
Instead, save for a couple of more extrovert voices, it was the audience who seemed to be quiet, something Horse remarked on herself a few times, but by the set’s end they had warmed up nicely and let no doubt as to their appreciation.
Show opener Sandra MacBeth, late of Skye, was a good choice of opening act for the bill headliner — and not just because they both appeared on The L Project’s anti-homophobia single "It Does Get Better".
Her voice was easily up to comparison with Horse’s own vocals, though without the occasional vocal pyrotechnics Horse is capable of.
Accompanying herself on guitar, MacBeth confessed to the odd glitch in her playing, something she put down to her pre-stage port and brandy, but even if the audience had noticed her tiny errors before MacBeth drew attention to them, they would soon have forgiven her for the fun rootsy pop MacBeth played.
Songs like her own "Moon Eyes" were catchy enough, but she also threw in a couple of covers, including the evening’s first A-ha reference and an unusually upbeat take on Radiohead’s "Creep" that seemed to proved it had not been written by Thom Yorke after all, but by Johnny Cash back in his Tennessee Two days.
Another talent worth shouting about.