Douglas Kay and Martin Philip of The Sorries are likeable, witty, and talented performers, and they put on a great show here. As we take our seats in the steep raked audience at the Quaker Meeting House they enter playing Bodhrans (Celtic drums) and singing
Fun and talented and if you haven’t heard these songs before then you should – you’re in Scotland.
The performance is just so fun and energetic, it’s impossible to not be drawn in. Philip keeps beat on Charlie is my Darling by stamping his foot, and the crowd is encouraged to help by clapping along. The result is a deletion of the space between performers and audience. Clapping and singing as we are, we feel as though we’re helping Kay and Philip – less being sung to, and more joining a grand old singalong: exactly what these songs were written for in the first place.
The two really are just charming – they tell jokes, they’re self-effacing and poke fun at each other between songs, and above all they make everyone feel welcome. Their voices merge well. Philip’s is the more powerful (‘lusty’, it might once have been called); Kay’s has this endearing throatiness, as if he’s been wounded, that is fully able to evoke the melancholy in these songs. An acoustic performance of Ae Fond Kiss is genuinely moving with that wavering on “Ae fond kiss and then we sever…”.
It’s interesting to think about the subject-matter of these old songs. It seemed every Scottish audience-member knew them all, knew the words, and there were murmurs of appreciation when the title of the next track was announced. Almost every song shares the same “Jacobite politics”, the same pride in Scottishness, which makes the jokes about Brexit and Scottish independence feel seamless and relevant to the Sorries’ music. The old fault lines remain beneath the surface.
Go and see The Sorries. You won’t be disappointed. They’re fun and talented and if you haven’t heard these songs before then you should – you’re in Scotland. If you have heard them before, then you won’t have heard them as good as this.