Sunday, July 14

Callum Beattie – Usher Hall, Edinburgh

The prodigal son returns as Musselburgh man Callum Beattie takes to the magnificent stage of the 2200 capacity, Usher Hall tonight to belt out some crowd favourites and experiment with some new material in front of a sell-out audience. The 34-year-old has come a long way from busking the streets and performing around the pubs of Edinburgh. Between songs, he tells us his regular gig fifteen years ago was at the Red Squirrel pub, just a stones throw away from tonight’s rather more salubrious venue.

Despite the minor setback of the drummer breaking his arm during rehearsals, the show most certainly went on, and quite a show it was.

Opening the set with the pumping title track of his second album, Vandals, has the packed house jumping and my fillings vibrating. Health and safety is out the window as Beattie cavorts around, ‘giving it laldie’ as we say in these parts, mounting the front speakers before jumping back onto the stage. I begin to see how the drummer suffered a fracture!

A lithe figure, clad in white jeans and white T and with a powerful husky singing voice, its easy to see how Beattie has drawn comparison with Bruce Springsteen. Likewise, the Rock Pop delivery and narrative style and focus on everyday struggles and triumphs in his songwriting reference a strong influence by Welsh supergroup, The Stereophonics.

But, as Callum explains, trying hard to contain his emotions, saying that this is one of the best nights of his life, the last fifteen years have not been easy, and as a self-promoter, booking the Usher Hall for two nights takes guts, determination and above all self-belief.

Thankfully Beattie has all of the above in spades.

Owning the stage and with the majority of the crowd singing every lyric, Beattie takes us through his collection. Being critical, some of the material Dead Man Walking, Heart Stops Beating, 25 seconds and Bed Is Burning, whilst all having anthemic energy, all sound very similar.

Where Beattie excels is in the intimate acoustic moments, which play to his strong narrative storytelling, delivered with sincerity, Easter Road , Don’t Walk Alone and Daddies Eyes all being fine examples. Likewise, new song, Eyes On Me, which Beattie himself describes as ‘the best I’ve written in a while’, certainly hit the mark.

Beattie’s most recognisable song, Salamander Street is held back until almost the end of the show, until the audience are baying for it in fact. The song paints a vivid picture of a specific infamous location in Edinburgh, and the street walkers who once populated it. It combines the best of both worlds, having an anthemic chorus but also elements of acoustic ballad. It is easily his best song, a real ear worm, and well worth a listen.

Callum Beattie may not be the ‘Boss’ of Scotland just yet, but have no doubt he is a talented, expressive musician, and an excellent example that belief and hard work can take you a long way. With a few more Salamander Streets, maybe his dream of one day playing Glastonbury’s main stage could be closer than he thinks.

Reviewer: Greg Holstead

Reviewed: 21st June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.