Music Review: The Gospel According to Mr Niz, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Apparently reflecting a childhood period touring the American south with his evangelical preacher father, Mr Niz – aka long-established singer, guitarist and session musician Stuart Nisbet – tells it like it is, giving no-nonsense, heartfelt delivery to good ol’ southern-style gospel, in the slickly empathetic company of double-bassist Nico Bruce, drummer Sian Monaghan and trumpeter Neil Weir.

Mr Niz - aka Stuart Nisbet - delivers good ol southern-style gospel

The Gospel According to Mr Niz, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh ****

The show opened with the stage-cramming Soundhouse Choir, directed by Heather Macleod, with a repertoire ranging from Michael Marra’s droll “alternative national anthem”, Hermless, to the downriver drift of Roberta Pia’s Whirlpool.

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They excelled, however, with the Unst Boat Song, its ancient Norn lyrics given the kind of open-throated power one associates with a Bulgarian choir.

Joined by Macleod’s sassy vocal outfit, the Bevvy Sisters, with Gina Rae, Louise Murphy and guitarist and occasional bass vocalist Dave Donnelly, they cranked up that mission hall vibe with Amen before Nisbet and company took the stage, opening with the country gospel of I Am a Pilgrim and the rockabilly holler of What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?

There was considerable nostalgia factor with songs such as the easy going Maybe It’s You, with nice trumpet work from Weir, while, joined by the Bevvies, they worked up a fine collective groove with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

The choir returned for an exuberant finale, massed voices and trumpet adding power to the compelling slow blues pleading of Nisbet’s Walk With Me and a jubilant mass encore of Every Time I Feel the Spirit.