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Live Review: Tom McRae at Bristol O2 Academy – Tuesday 16th March 2010

By on Wednesday, 17th March 2010 at 12:01 am

Singer-Songwriters are everywhere. Everyone has, at somepoint in their life dreamt of being able to pick up a guitar, strum away and pull that girl or guy with an amazing song, or leading thousands of people in a singalong. Very few actually manage to make a career out of it. Even fewer are actually good, all round musicians and entertainers. Tom McRae is one of this rare and dying species, and I caught him last night at Bristol’s O2 Academy.

I’ve caught Tom a few times before, having been enchanted by him on the Hotel Cafe tour around the UK, where he was funny, entertaining and above all had some gut-wrenching songs that I so loved. We’re not talking the usual tales of failed relationships, oh no, we’re talking death, decay and pain of the nth degree. Yet somehow you leave a Tom McRae show feeling optimistic, positive even, despite the mass sing alongs of “It’s the end of the world…” (in old favourite ‘End Of The World News (Dose Me Up)’).

With his dry sense of humour, Tom observed that his (surprisingly excellent) cover of Rihanna’s Umbrella (which he referred to as his “Tombrella”) got bigger cheers than any of his other songs so far, asking the audience to send in ideas for other merchandise (so far they’ve had a McRadio (that only plays bad news), McRaybans (that always give the darker side of life) and the Tombrella (that lets you have the shade even on the sunniest day)).

Acknowledging fully that commercial success has largely eluded him, he takes pimping his merchandise to a whole new level, past shameful and back around to highly amusing, flogging tea towels, posters and CDs like there’s no tomorrow. If Tom ever gives up the music biz there is most likely a job going for him as a comedian – his tales about touring around the UK (“I only remember doing Leeds Girls Grammar School on that tour…”) and comparing releasing singles to being like raising Orang-utans (don’t ask, you probably had to be there to understand) are both hilarious and a great respite from the melancholy of his tracks..

Opening the set with some songs of his new album, The Alphabet of Hurricanes, I will admit I was concerned that, at 40, he’d gone all “rock” on us in a mid life crisis, however you quickly realise that lyrical content is still the same sort of stuff. I personally far prefer his earlier three albums, however the songs from his latest two (“King of Cards” and “Alphabet of Hurricanes”) are by no stretch “go to the bar” / “talk to a mate” / “go to the loo” material – they’re just as valid set additions. I’m a fan of the sadder tales, the melancholy and the woe, but that might just be due to other issues in my life at the moment. Songs like ‘Walking to Hawaii’, ‘Hidden Camera Show’, ‘My Vampire Heart’ and ‘End Of The World News (Dose Me Up)’ never get old, songs that I’ve grown up with and will always treasure.

Opening up was Texan Brian Wright who also plays guitar supporting Tom, and his set was a strong set of guitar tales, which would be ace if only we had a camp fire to sit around and a few less idiots talking through the whole set.

Tom McRae’s tour finishes tonight at London’s Scala, which is sold out, before Tom hits Europe for a few weeks of shows. If you get a chance, make sure you catch the talented Essex troubadour somewhere in the future – trust me, it’ll be one of the best shows of your life, and if it’s not I’ll pay for your ticket. Can’t say fairer than that, eh?

Read our interview with Tom McRae here.


Live Review: Tom McRae + The Hotel Cafe tour – London KCLSU

By on Thursday, 1st May 2008 at 1:08 pm

Tom McRae @ The Hotel Cafe tour in London at KCLSU“These shows are always far too short” moaned Tom McRae as he brought down the curtains on almost 3 hours of non-stop music that, frankly, would put most lesser artists to shame. In those 3 hours, we’d seen beard shaving, mass-singalongs, surprise special guests and more off-the-cuff jokes than most comedians manage in a year. All for a mere £15 too.

This was the second time that the Essex-based singer/songwriter had bought over his motley crew of artists from the US to play the Hotel Cafe tour, named after the famous venue in LA which plays host to a range of a wide range of artists for a cabaret-like performance where anything can happen. As they showed, anything really can happen when they decided to shave the beard of lead organiser Jason, live on stage towards the end.

Each playing one or two songs, Tom introduced each one with amusing tales, and before 9:30 had even swung round we’d already hurtled through three Tom McRae songs as well as songs from Catherine Feeny, Brian Wright, Jim Bianco, Cary Brothers, and Greg Laswell. Poor Greg hobbled around after spraining his ankle in Brighton whilst drunkenly chasing a fox, much to the amusement of the audience.

Part of the tradition of the Hotel Cafe shows are special guests – two years ago we got Aqualung, this time round Turin Brakes played previous single “Dark on Fire” and old favourite “Pain Killer”.

Tom then came back, joined by the rest of the performers for a rousing version of “Dose me Up”, which was quite amazing to hear everyone looping round the haunting chorus of “So dose me up / Once is not enough / I can still see the ground / And from this high rise view looking down on you / Im not the one wasting my time”. Personally, that was my highlight, but with time getting on the performers got back into the swing of things with renewed passion – Jim Bianco’s “striptease” routine provided a moment of amusement as his “smoky backroom” voice fitted the setting perfectly. Greg told us stories of his family, with tales of his Mum and Dad’s worries about him, and Catherine just played amazing songs whilst adding a sexy element to the male-dominated proceedings. Brian, well, what more can I say. The man can play. And has facial hair that would make lesser men weap, it’s so thick. Cary Brothers was the musical genius that needs more credit – amazing songs, he should be able to tour the UK more.

All too soon 11:30 had rolled around, and with one more sing along to “Silent Boulevard”, they were gone – too quickly for my liking, but still – £15 for 3 hours of brilliant entertainment – amazing.

After the jump: A video of Cary Brother’s “Ride” and pictures. If you want large versions of any of the pictures, just yell and I can sort that out for you 🙂

Continue reading Live Review: Tom McRae + The Hotel Cafe tour – London KCLSU


Tom McRae and the Artistes of Hotel Cafe / 2008 UK Tour

By on Tuesday, 19th February 2008 at 8:51 pm

Tom McRaeAlready a shoe-in for me for gig of 2008, Tom McRae has announced that he’s bringing the artistes of Hotel Cafe to the UK once again in April. The Essex singer-songwriter did it in 2006, and is coming back to play bigger venues, more dates, with more stars from the legendary Los Angeles venue. Catherine Feeny, Brian Wright, Jim Bianco, Cary Brothers, and Greg Laswell are all playing the shows, along with the usual cast of “extras”, special guests and big name stars.

Tickets are on sale now, priced at £15 each. There are two London shows, but at the moment the second one hasn’t been put on sale yet, and I’m not sure when it will be. Catch me down the front at the first London date.

Thursday 17th April – Ireland (venue to be confirmed)
Friday 18th April – Ireland (venue to be confirmed)
Sunday 20th April – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Monday 21st April – Leeds, Cockpit
Tuesday 22nd April – Manchester Club Academy
Thursday 24th April – Glasgow, Oran Mor
Friday 25th April – Edinburgh, Cabaret Voltaire,
Saturday 26th April – Birmingham Barfly,
Monday 28th April – Bristol Thekla
Tuesday 29th April – Brighton, Concorde 2
Wednesday 30th April – London Kings College
Saturday 17th May – London Kings College


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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