Blue Rose Code

Falkirk Town Hall

Russell Leadbetter

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IT’S a sign of the increasingly high profile of Edinburgh’s Blue Rose Code - Ross Wilson to his friends and family - that his most recent studio album, last October’s The Water of Leith, can attract guest vocalists of the calibre of Julie Fowlis and Beth Nielsen Chapman, with sleeve notes written by none other than Ian Rankin. Rankin gets it spot-on when he describes an album filled with emotion, yearning and exploration of Scotland. All of these qualities were on display when Wilson took to the stage on a rainy night in Falkirk.

He’s a captivating performer, live. He fairly commands the stage but plainly doesn’t like too much artifice - at one early point, he asked the stage technicians to cut back on the dry ice - and, in his softly-spoken way, he’s engagingly open about his personal life, disclosing that he and his partner had their first child late last year, and alluding to the fact that while he once left Scotland for London as an angry young man, now, he’s not so angry, and not so young. For this show he had excellent back-up: Wild Lyle Watt on guitar, Andy Lucas on keyboards (Lucas performed a support set at short notice in place of Roseanne Reid, who was indisposed) and Iain Sloan on pedal steel.

Watt, swapping between acoustic and electric guitars, was a revelation with his nimble, fluid fretwork. The highlight of the set was a gorgeous take on Passing Places and Sandaig, both from the new album. Ebb and Flow, One Day at a Time, and Rebecca, all reminded you of Wilson’s strengths as an emotionally literate songwriter. There was a rousing Ye Jacobites by Name (Wilson being only partly successful in coaxing the audience to join in the chorus) and, near the end, Edina, his absorbing recollections of growing up in Edinburgh. Catch him the next time he’s on tour.