Katie Gregson-MacLeod is probably a name you have never heard of but say it to Alexa and you might get a pleasant surprise as the Amazon music machine spits out five or six modern classics for your entertainment. This fresh meat is served up via TikTok, whose carnivorous audience launched Macleod’s career little over a year ago when her minute-long snippet of the breathlessly miserable piano-ballad Complex went viral, clocking up over 7M views in quick time.
Appropriately enough, I’m at the Dissection Room at Summerhall, to analyse the small body of work that forms the touring MacLeod’s ouvre to date. It’s windowless, and airless, and unfortunately for this old man, chairless. I sit on a ledge next to the stage which I find out later is the sub-woofer. I’m still vibrating. Ominously or perhaps portentously, writing on the wall facing the stage reads, there are many secrets In The Bone Library. Maybe here is one of them?
Looking still slightly shell-shocked from her meteoric rise, Katie is somewhere between where she wants to be and where she has come from. She is no longer in her hometown of Inverness, having moved to London after being signed by Columbia Records. She is living the life that since the age of 3 or 4 she always imagined for herself, but ironically, having ‘broken through’ the fear of failure now weighs much more heavily.
In her biggest gig to date the 22-year-old Scottish singer-songwriter is still in experimental mode and while I had expected an acoustic chilled vibe, based on what I had listened to online, this is surprisingly upbeat. The first number ‘September’ has the place bouncing, with backing band comprising of talented singer/songwriter Lizzie Reid on Bass and backing vocals, and Glasgow boys, James Harker and Chris Dickie on guitar and drums, rocking it out in fine style.
Later in the set, the stand-out songs Second Single Bed, and Your Ex received similarly boisterous backing to the obvious delight of her fans. In between band numbers we are treated to moments of calm reflection with just Katie and the piano for TV Show, White Lies and of course Complex.
With the lyrical quality of her acknowledged hero, Joni Mitchell, the musicality of Suzanne Vega, and all the vivacity and fun of Sharleen Spiteri, there is plenty to enjoy here.
Given the autobiographical nature of her songwriting, The Dissection Room might be just the name for her first album, landing soon! https://www.katie-gregson-macleod.com/
Reviewer: Greg Holstead
Reviewed: 30th November 2023
North West End UK Rating: