Last week the main auditorium of the Tolbooth in Stirling was transformed in an almost jazz bar-like setting. They’d dispensed with the auditorium seating in favour of a more intimate setting with candle-lit tables and chairs set out on the floor level for the Emily Barker concert on Thursday night.
This change from the usual set up suited the tone for the night, with a captivated audience listening to Emily Barker’s Americana style of music, which fuses everything from folk to soul to blues to country.
The musicianship on show here was superb. Not only is Emily Barker’s voice absolutely flawless but she was supported by a talented band of multi-instrumentalists who played everything from the keys to the cello. Pete Roe, who played the keyboard during Emily’s set, opened the show with a set of his own songs with just him and his guitar on the stage.
Originally from Australia, Emily was full of stories about the writing and recording process for her most recent album Sweet Kind of Blue, which she recorded in Memphis. There were lots of interesting insights peppered throughout the set, including some of the varied inspirations behind some of her songs.
One of those inspirations was Sister Rosetta Tharpe, an African-American pioneer of mid-20th century gospel music. Emily had written the song ‘Sister Goodbye’ about her. This inspiration returned again for the encore as she performed an A Capella cover of Sister Rosetta’s song ‘Precious Memories’, one of the highlights of the night which showed Emily could hold her own on the stage with now accompaniment.
Another highlight of the set was ‘Nostalgia’, a song that many people may recognise as the theme tune for the BBC One Kenneth Branagh series Wallander.
The set list was perfectly curated to fuse seamlessly from Emily’s more upbeat material to some of her balladry and back again, showing off the full breadth of her musical style and talent.
It was definitely the sort of show that suited the intimate seated setting so that you could sit back and listen to the beautiful music that Emily Barker and her band were playing.