Music review: Madeleine Peyroux, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Madeleine Peyroux
Madeleine Peyroux
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OPENING with the slightly gnomic observation that “I’m not going to quote any Burns for you”, Madeleine Peyroux promised, nevertheless, to start and end her show “with love” before launching into the easy-loping swing of Don’t Wait Too Long.

Madeleine Peyroux, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh ***

She was preceded by a brief opening set from London singer-songwriter Hannah Scott with cellist Stefano Della Casa, which managed to combine both waifishness and defiant grit. Deftly escorted by an excellent quartet of guitar, electric bass, keyboard and drums, Peyroux, as ever, intrigued and sometimes irritated with her distinctively wayward defiance of pitch, swooping and sliding around notes before resolving them.

The slick You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome was correspondingly inflected with insouciant angst, while her stylistic debt to Billie Holliday was acknowledged in her longstanding and affectionate treatment of Getting Some Fun Out of Life. The band left the stage for her engaging solo J’ai Deux Amours, which morphed sassily into a New Orleans talking blues then Patti Smith’s Trampin’.

Numbers from her widely acclaimed current album, Anthem, included a sardonic serenade to capitalism, Brand New Deal, with keyboard player Andy Ezrin letting rip, the wry, beaty On My Own with its marching drums and a triumphal cover of the album’s title track, Leonard Cohen’s Anthem. The cheerful stomp of “my stoner tune”, On a Sunday Afternoon, contrasted dramatically with the outraged compassion of Lullaby, its evocation of a woman adrift with her child complemented by Jon Herington’s melancholy slide guitar. - Jim Gilchrist