Sam Baker, The Pleasance , Edinburgh, 7th June 2014.
Usually I like to post a review within a couple of days if I’m going to do one. If a week passes I don’t normally bother, but this has matured nicely thanks to time elapsed.
On June 7th I was in the bar at the Pleasance to see Sam Baker thanks to the top bird at the Bird getting tickets. It was my first time at the Pleasance and the intimacy of this small venue is striking. The perfomer is situated in a shallow cauldron, or a Wok of an arena and literally in touching distance of the audience.
Sam Baker it turns out is completely at home in this setting, as if he was just entertaining old friends in his livingroom. Like we’d been invited to a house party and Sam had just got up to do a few tunes.The tunes though were of a quality deserving of some of the bigger venues in town. But then the intimacy would’ve been absent. And members of the audience being teased about illicit nights with bikers while holidaying in the US added a lot to the atmosphere and entertainment value.
The night divided into two parts with part one being Sam performing whatever he felt like and part two where he performed songs of his as chosen by the audience. The evenings highlight was his performance of his song Broken Fingers. The wave of emotion that rippled outward across the bar was palpable.
Both performance and subject matter worth the price of admission alone. Concerning an episode when he was the victim of a terrorist bombing in South America I’d venture that live is the only way to really hear this song.
That was the point at which I properly clicked with Sam Bakers songs. Buying the album on the way out was a gimme after that. But the album is what completes this review. I fully get the enthusiasm and affection the crowd has for him now. In hindsight I am appreciating this gig even more. Having acqainted myself with his album Mercy where he’s accompanied by other musicians I now know exactly how special it was to see him solo, just a man and his guitar. The next time he visits I’ll get to hear him with different ears.
(c) Jim Laing 2014.