It’s Thursday night in Edinburgh and I’m heading over to The Voodoo Rooms to see a gig and write a review. Now I’m not sure about this one, my expectations are very high! This is a type/genre of music that I’m not sure is quite as good live as it is played through a top end hi-fi, will I be disappointed … certainly not!
On first entering The Voodoo Room’s Speakeasy it’s immediately noticeable there has been a lot of work, careful work, put into this show. There are 2 screens to the back of the stage, one almost a notice board to tell you it’s Louise Rutkowski playing tonight and the other, full stage width, simply for visuals. Both of these are beautifully managed throughout the night, each song having its own landscape, very very clever! Visuals on the evening were created and operated by Robert Motyka.
So the scene is set and on walks Louise with guitarist Morph and on keyboard and technology Irvin Duguid. All of the songs this evening other than the last 3 on the set list (more on those surprises later) were written by Louise and Irvin.
A few hellos and then the music begins. Almost immediately the quality of the sound and the mix is apparent, lots of words come to mind, clean, crisp, atmospheric, beautifully simple and I begin to relax, disappointment will be nowhere in sight tonight!
The opening track is The Mearns, now sorry but the lyrics for me could be almost anything, it’s the sound that is utterly captivating. Keyboard opens and then the voice …. the voice! I could almost end the review here, I would never have believed this almost cathedral crispness could be achieved in such a small space. Some spaces lend themselves perfectly to simple yet beautiful music, cathedrals and churches have that feeling but here it is tonight in The Voodoo Rooms Speakeasy! Back to the song, It’s mostly vocals and piano but there are layers of wonderful sound that drift in and out, new ones appear, the vocals come back in, the voice soars, a crescendo, a gentle end. Stunning!
I could go through the whole evening song by song and write much the same about each one. For me this is the return of the album! The set tonight consists of the songs from the album ‘Diary Of A Lost Girl’ plus ‘those surprises’! At the end of the evening I wanted to turn over the 33rpm long playing record, put the needle back into the beginning of the groove and disappear again, to a very happy place! Each track from the album is performed tonight plus one new one, Circle Of Life, which will be on the next album. The songs are not played in the same order as they are on the album though, again a wonderful indication of how much detailed thought has gone into this performance. Maybe the songs flow differently in a live setting than they do on the album!
The last thing I want is for this review to turn into a sales pitch about Louise but in a strange way that is what I am going to do. I’m not going to say much more about the night, or her, or the songs … you should simply listen to this album .. again and again and again and go and see and hear her! Below there is the set list, each song was introduced by Louise and each has a story, there are ‘nods to The Blue Nile’, ‘a happy song’, one about chilling and even one that was wittingly introduced as an homage to Abba!
Now to those surprises! I grew up musically listening to bands such as The Cocteau Twins, The Blue Nile, Japan and This Mortal Coil. These and a few other bands and musicians gave me that relaxed, chilled feeling that is just above melancholy and just below happiness.
I’d had that feeling tonight and as the evening grew to a close there were 2 tracks from that time in my life and from now that show that despite all that has happened, all the change, all the advances in the world, there is still beautiful, powerful music! Yes that’s a strong statement but Song To The Siren by This Mortal Coil and Lies by Chvrches bridge the time gap! The finale was Walk Away and the evening came to a close. Perhaps I’ve lingered too long on the emotional take of the evening but that is what this music is about, yes it was technically superb, yes everything worked wonderfully and yes there was a broad range of content but …. the vibe wins every time!
For more about Louise, her past, her present and her plans please visit her website www.louiserutkowski.co.uk and regardless of whether you like this type of music or not just head along to see her if you get the chance, voices like this are few and far between.