Music review: Malka, Hug & Pint, Glasgow

During this playful set from singer-songwriter Tamara Schlesinger, the sense of potential was tangible, writes David Pollock

Malka, Hug & Pint, Glasgow ****

Malka, aka Scots singer-songwriter Tamara Schlesinger, was forced to disappoint her fans towards the end of this rare but welcome gig, in support of this year’s fourth album Anatomy of Sight. She’d considered asking her band to learn a cover of Kylie Minogue’s recent disco-pop hit Padam Padam but hadn’t had time in the end. Shouts to the effect they should just it a try anyway were turned down, probably for the best.

Albeit on an extreme budget, Schlesinger has a lot artistically in common with a performer such as Kylie, along with other fiercely distinctive club auteurs such as Roisin Murphy or Alison Goldfrapp. Her music is light and deceptively poppy, with an effervescent, danceable edge, and a set of fiercely catchy and direct choruses. The four musicians supporting her created a rich, full-band sound, although often it felt as though her most universally anthemic songs, for example Reach Out or What You Get Out, wouldn’t have been harmed by a full arena production.

MALKA PIC: Demelza KingstonMALKA PIC: Demelza Kingston
MALKA PIC: Demelza Kingston
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There’s an overt playfulness to what she does – the gorgeous, multi-coloured headpiece she wore throughout looked as though it had been created from a patchwork of balls from a child’s play pit – but her lyrics betray a sense of depth and political consciousness, like War Coffee’s tribute to the female-written Ukrainian blog of the same name or You Own Us’s castigation of social media barons.

Despite the warmth and good feeling in the room, her difficult journey up until this point also became clear. She’s had long Covid for three-and-a-half years, we were told (although she managed to gather together female and non-binary songwriting collective Hen Hoose during this time) and songs like Detachment and Out of Body spoke of this experience.

The closing Flashlight, meanwhile, was an upbeat message of thanks to her shy husband for his support. The sense of potential during her set was tangible, her music gathering a small but dedicated family of fans and supporters which only deserves to grow larger.