Covering a range of singer/songwriter greats, Juliet Nisbet and Bruce Birrell, collectively known as Spirit of Love, take us on a musical journey across Scotland, Ireland, France and America. Despite what the title suggests, the show isn’t for everyone, but fans of folk, country or spiritual music will appreciate the duo’s performance all the same.
For a band so used to playing at nursing homes, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was always going to be a big step up and is understandably nerve-wracking for the pair. However, despite their evidently nervous dispositions, the duo do well in their performance and do justice to the songs they deliver.
Most notable about the pair is the contrast in their vocals. Whilst Birrell offers his low, trembling Scottish drone which is aged like many a fine Scottish whiskey, Nisbet meets him with a higher, almost angelic tone, sometimes akin to a church chorus singer. Opening with Johnny Tillotson’s ‘Jailer Bring Me Water’ and continuing their short but packed set with the likes of Foster And Alan, Dr Who, The Corries and Robert Burns, with intimate performances of ‘Kumbaya’ and ‘Plaisir d’Amour’, the duo take turns to sing solo, in unison or in sweet blending harmonies.
Birrell tears up during some of the more emotional songs, particularly the ones with a more personal meaning to him, which he explains heart-warmingly. He then announces ‘This is about as rock ‘n’ roll as we get’, before the band deliver a delicate performance of Hank Williams’ ‘Cheatin’ Heart’. This really says it all.
Closing their set with ‘Rose Of My Heart’, one of the last songs written by Johnny Cash, the band seemed quietly confident that their performance went better than expected, having rid themselves of the nerves which had stifled them at the start.