“As you may have noticed, I am not Mariza”
The first words that Mischa Macpherson said as she took to the stage with her band.
It’s a bit of an unexpected bonus to see her here and I think the same feeling for them to be here – performing an excerpt from her work ‘Bho Èirigh gu Laighe na Grèine’, which was commissioned for the Blas festival and the year of young people.
This work is built around Gaelic poetry but explores different things from what you’d usually find in Gaelic song.
Things like fairy tales of mice stealing teeth, and the hidden forests of North Uist, and the connection that the people of the Hebrides have with the world around them.
There are some unusual instruments involved too like harmonium and double bass.
It’s very atmospheric, cinematic even.
And of course, Mischa has the voice of an angel.
As a choice of support I think they were well suited as both Mischa and Mariza are doing very similar things but in a very different way.
Both taking traditional music as a framework and building their own thing around it.
Portuguese Fado music in the case of Mariza.
Backed by her band playing accordion, guitar, Portuguese guitarra and percussion from left to right on the stage and with a big glittery gold backdrop, a little table and stool and a big performance space, the Concert Hall is almost transformed into a huge Fado club.
Mariza arrived on the stage lit by only one light and the first song started slowly.
The lights gradually built up with each song and as this happened she became more animated with each song, moving around the stage a lot.
She’d sing then go back to the seat, take a sip of water and tell us what the song was about, dedicating her set to her fellow Portuguese.
Now here’s a weird piece of symmetry for you.
Exactly 10 years and one day ago I saw Mariza in the same venue at the same festival.
In that time her music has explored more traditional older styles and more free, maybe even more commercial sounds. There’s a definite Brazilian bossa nova flavour to some songs that I detect that I didn’t before.
But really it all come down to the voice.
The power of it and the passion of her performances.
And I should know because I got something that no one else in the room got.
The first minute and a half of ‘Sou (Rochedo)’, the third song – the limit of taking photographs by the way – she sang to me.
Crouched at the front of the stage, into my face!
I don’t think I’ve ever had a more intense experience at a concert than that.