REVIEW: Tom McRae, The Sage Gateshead

Tom McRae
Tom McRae
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MAUDLIN, mellifluous and melancholic music cut with a dry and self-deprecating humour, Tom McRae must be one of Britain’s greatest performers.

On stage, in the atmospheric performance space at The Sage Gateshead, McRae induced both poignant silence and ripples of laughter.

Subdued, slow numbers such as Ship of Blue and Green, You Only Disappear and My Vampire Heart made up the majority of his set, spiked as it was with angrier songs such as Prometheus and livelier tracks like Karaoke Soul.

But it was McRae’s wit and humour between songs which provided the real contrast and relief from the melancholy of some of his work.

Powerful though his songs are, “depressing” is not an unfamiliar adjective when it comes to describing his work.

McRae embraces this, however, with self-aware humour. He is also happy to make jokes about his commercial success.

Despite appearing on the Mercury Music Prize shortlist, being acclaimed by critics and heralded as one of Britain’s best singer-songwriters, he is far from a household name.

His music has been used on soundtracks for film and TV, including the massively-popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but so far he as achieved little more than cult status and a loyal following.

For McRae, this is just ammunition for his acerbic comic interludes, referring to himself as “that Tim McGraw” and pointing out how he went to the same school as Ed Sheeran – but only the latter is mentioned on their alma mater’s Wikipedia page.

Joking aside, it is a shame the Essexman doesn’t have a bigger following, not least because people are missing out on amazing performances such as this.