Sometimes a gig is more than just a gig.
The near-sellout audience that packed themselves into Edinburgh’s Queens Hall on Friday evening to see the Blue Rose Code ‘Homecoming’ show were treated to a spectacular performance from some of Scotland’s finest musicians and a musical celebration of everything that’s wonderful about this region of the country.
Since moving back to Scotland earlier this year following the release of the acclaimed album ‘And Lo! The Bird Is On The Wing’, Ross Wilson (aka Blue Rose Code) admits to having found an inner peace and a refreshed creative drive whilst living in the South Lanarkshire countryside. ‘Despite the fact, I said I was never coming home’ he reflects, ‘it’s happened. It just feels right.’
Blue Rose Code is an ever-changing live spectacle; different arrangements, different band members, different guests, it’s a creative and spontaneous environment that according to drummer and pianist John Lowrie ‘brings out the best in musicians’. Tonight is no exception; performing alongside John are Lyle Watt on guitar, Ian Sloan on Pedal Steel, Angus Lyon on accordion and keys, Graham Coe on Cello, Nico Bruce on bass and Ross’ long-term friend and collaborator Wrenne on backing vocals.
Following a fabulous set from guests Zervas and Pepper, Blue Rose Code takes to the stage opening with a solo performance from Ross of ‘November’s Ghost’, a song written about the passing of his Grandmother; an event that prompted his move away from Scotland seventeen years ago.
The rest of the band take to the stage for ‘Boscombe Armistice’ and ‘Rebecca’. By this point, the warmth emanating from both the performance and the audience is palpable. A beautiful fourteen-minute montage of ‘In the Morning – Parts 1, 2 and 3’ gives the performers further opportunity to shine….
Following ‘My Heart, The Sun’ the band settle into the groove of ‘Chasing Sunlight’ from the recent EP release (a personal favourite). Ross then takes a seat at the grand Steinway and Sons piano for solo renditions of two new songs; “One’s about leaving London, and the other is about coming home” he explains…
The popular and emotive ‘Pokesdown Waltz’ follows, a song that Ross wrote sat on the end of his bed ‘greeting his eyes out’, with Angus’ accordion accompaniment adding some beautiful melodic interplay.
The band work through a mix of material from the Blue Rose Code catalogue varying the tempo and feel of each track, including a fantastic performance of ‘Nashville Blue’ with Ross accompanied by John on piano. At one point Ross introduces Glasgow-based singer-songwriter, Beth Malcolm. Having discovered Beth through a youtube video of her performing a cover version of the Blue Rose Code track ‘Skin and Bones’, Ross invited Beth along to join him on stage to perform a simply stunning duet of the track….
No Blue Rose Code show would be complete without a performance of ‘Edina’, Ross’ self-penned apology to Edinburgh. Tonight it carries additional importance and the energy left in the room is electric.
The highlight of the show is when Ross and the band are joined on stage by more than fifty members of the Glasgow and Edinburgh contemporary choirs for a joyous rendition of ‘Grateful’.
The evening is rounded off with a triumphant, uplifting and choir-assisted version of ‘Oh, North’ and a beautifully performed cover of Davey Steele’s ‘Scotland Yet’, a seemingly perfect way to end an evening that will live long in the minds of everyone who was fortunate enough to be a part of it.
Images are taken from video footage filmed by Rob Bridge and Rose Boyko.