Tristan Mackay at St Pancras Old Church
When church bells begin bluntly interrupting the lead track of your latest album, some might take it as a sign. Blues and folk guitarist Tristan Mackay didn’t, adamantly ploughing on with Wire & Wood and the rest of his set well past the scheduled finish time. Fortunately, Mackay’s easy listening style made this extension of the night bearable, but his overly staunch faith in his own music was symptomatic of what eventually became somewhat of a self-deprecating evening.
The set opened promisingly: initial songs You Win Again and I’ll Be Yours Tonight used soft finger-picking that shifted subtly through satisfying chord sequences, and Mackay’s gently wobbling falsetto was just strong enough to create a sense of genuine romantic angst. Wherever You Lay Your Head took a welcome blues turn, with some funky little fills, effective live self-sampling, and impressively clean finger work that was kept at a consistent level throughout the gig. With the venue being a tranquilly candle-lit church, the fully seated audience were restricted to foot tapping, but some clearly had the urge to get up and jiggle. This wasn’t groundbreaking stuff, but how could you not enjoy it?
However, the concert took a twist with the emotionally charged Still Here. The song itself is a touchingly sincere depiction of Mackay’s methods of dealing with depression, but the songwriter’s intimate preamble stole the limelight from his own music, which had begun as an enjoyable blend of folk and blues.
By the time the bells had decided they’d had enough, a collective embarrassed sense of agreement passed silently through the audience. Mackay’s lengthy pause to present a gift to his major crowdfunding benefactor was a bit far, and the inevitable consequence was a subconscious shift in opinion on the music. The sound is very listenable pop folk, but unfortunately the dark between song talk was too distracting to rate it any higher.
Photos: Courteney Emans
For further information about Tristan Mackay and future events visit here.
Watch a live performance of Wherever You Lay Your Head here: