Tom McRae came out quietly, bashfully, didn't speak, didn't introduce himself but launched straight into the haunting 'You Cut her hair' - chills ran down my spine and the hair stood up on the back of my neck and arms, goose pimples everywhere. The deep tone of the Cello went right through my belly and the violins and viola that accompanied the song, seemed to cling on to his very word.
The Papiersaal is an old paper mill situated in the heart of ZÃ¼rich in Sihlcity. Done up beautifully inside, the acoustics suited the quartet and McRae's acoustic guitar.
McRae likes Zurich, having played in the Electric Plant in Selnau on his last trip, this visit to another vamped up old part of town, seems to suit him. He also is proud of the String Quartet that accompanies him and he introduced us to them, gradually throughout the show.
It being a small crowd of around 200 hundred, there were some diehard fans but anyone watching and listening to his gig last night would have been hypnotised.
The quartet played and followed his directions and he drove into another Tom McRae classic – 'Karaoke Soul' - it rocked even with strings. Half way through the gig, the quartet left McRae to indulge us in some banter and some wandering around the crowd. He played a fantastic acoustic version of Bloodless. The locals were so animated and into the gig, this surprised me, as I just wanted to listen and watch and soak it all up.
The shorter second half just flew by but 'The Boy with the Bubble Gun' was sung so beautifully and the strings accompany his voice, as though they were backing vocals, it was so well arranged.
Why Tom McRae is not as well recognised globally as Damian Rice, James Morrison and even James Blunt I do not know. Perhaps the melancholy sounds and the blunt not so happy ever after lyrics are not to everybody's taste. Here is a UK singer song writer who needs people to see him. He loves performing. I highly recommend him and it was probably the best gig I have seen this year.