Scottish singer Horse McDonald on 'poignant' first live show since lockdown began

Scottish singer Horse McDonald has spoken of her excitement of playing live again for the first time since the pandemic closed every venue and halted all tours.

She reunited with her band to record a special gig at Dunfermline’s Carnegie Hall this week.

The concert will be screened as part of a first ever Spring Festival curated by OnFife.

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Horse and her band performing live in the library room at Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline for OnFife's Spring Festival

It was the first time Horse and her band had been together since late 2019.

The tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of her album, The Same Sky, was due to roll into 2020.

Lockdown pushed all gigs into 2021 and they have subsequently been moved again into next year.

A long hiatus without music - performing, rehearsing and recording - finally ended this week.

Horse McDonald at the Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline (Pic: Alistair More)

“It was so exciting to sing live again,” said Horse. “Music has been such a huge part of my life - it was so poignant to be able to do it again after such a long time.

“As a band we hadn’t seen each other for 16 months. We met in the car park and we couldn’t hug!

“We couldn’t rehearse as a group -we could do it in isolation online, but this gig was the very antidote of Zoom.”

The session was set up with strict protocols in place. The sound desk was outside the room, windows kept open, and masks worn before going for a live take.

But the venue also had some magic of its own.

“What was lovely about the Carnegie Hall was that it was a music institute, so it was just perfect.

“And the view from the window looked right across to the three bridges across the Forth. That was amazing, and the weather kept changing - we had lightning, sunshine, dark clouds, everything!

“Doing the songs from The Same Sky seemed so appropriate given the album’s anniversary. It made total sense, and I also wanted my audience to hear songs they haven’t heard in such a long, long time.”

Horse is in no doubt how important music is to people - and how much live gigs have been missed.

“It’s a healer and salver of people’s lives,” she said. “It’s incredible to think we last played together in November 2019.

“During lockdown I have done some live sessions online at home, but I’m much more cautious because I have neighbours - if I started belting out songs, all they would hear is me yelling, so I hold back.

“In the room with the band there were moments where I went off piste and ad libbed - and that’s a great sign I was just loving it!”

OnFife’s Spring Festival is on March 20 and 21.

It also features comedy masterclasses from Raymond Mearns and Jay Jay Lafferty, music from Horse and Dunfermline band, Dancing On Tables, plus a screening of From Scotland With Love.

Full details at www.onfife.com

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