What a great introduction to The Sorries!
The gig begins as Douglas and Marty drum their way towards the stage. The crowd quiets swiftly! The Sorries march in wearing casual kilts and singing.
Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe, back in 2009, in Riddle’s Court, was where The Sorries began their career. It’s pretty nifty to hear them play at the Greenside venue again, so close to Edinburgh Castle, in 2023.
Does 2009 feel like a long time ago? The Sorries play music from hundreds of years gone. If you want music from the Jacobite era or elsetime from Scotland’s past, this is the act for you.
What to expect
Douglas and Marty play their instruments, and they have a range of them and sing.
I feel they both are music historians and are interested in where, when, who and how a song came to be. I left this performance entertained and a bit more educated.
Twice over, The Sorries offer the best of both. In the first instance, this collection has songs that use old Scottish. If you are visiting Edinburgh, or Scotland, to get in touch with your roots, this is a great opportunity. At the same time, the Scottish terms are never too dense or alien. On occasion, they are explained. We have a few words for sighting, and who would have guessed?
In the second of those “best of both” instances, sometimes The Sorries have meddled with the lyrics to bring a song update. Often, this song updating is in -keeping with the song’s intent – such as carrying contemporary news. It worked on me.
Any mention of contemporary news often needs a wee warning. The Sorries poke fun at some recent political scandals and don’t shield either side of the political divide. If you have politically thin skin, you might be uncomfortable or angered by jokes about campervans. Equally, you might not get the reference if you’re visiting Edinburgh from pretty much anywhere outside Scotland.
For the most part, though, you listen to The Sorries to hear songs sung by Scottish farmers and fighters hundreds of years ago.
Vibe and Performance
Riddle’s Court is lovely and air-conditioned. It felt like it took the house team an age to get all the queues into the venue, but that might just be me being tired and impatient on my fifth twenty-hour day of the festival in a row. What I’m confident about is that I will gladly go back to the venue again.
I’ll certainly listen to The Sorries again. I can tell that they are on Spotify.
The vibe was great, even if it sometimes reminded me of a wedding. At the front of the audience, we had The Sorries’ fans who knew what to expect and the lyrics. At the back, the bride’s family, I mean those of us who were more cautious newcomers. We all got along and bonded over the music.
Oh! The lyrics! Douglas and Marty are keen for people to sing along. Some did. I knew none of the words, didn’t find music easy, couldn’t follow the instructions and started to cringe a bit with each entreaty to sing along. Sorry, The Sorries; I can’t, won’t and don’t. I enjoyed the performance by listening, grinning, tapping my feet and letting history come to me.
As for the music? The Sorries are joining my cosmopolitan collection of playlists. I admit it might be the case that the songs all merge into one sound over time, though. These songs sound contemporary because The Sorries have found modern arrangements for them, which undoubtedly impacts the diversity. Time will tell.
The Sorries have a fantastic start to a musical history lesson, and I wish more acts did this.
My first encounter with The Sorries had them added to my playlists. I’m concerned that the joy of discovery will fade, but let’s cross that bridge later.
I’d recommend The Sorries to anyone who likes folk music or Scottish music or wants to try something new. Riddle’s Court is appropriately historic for well-sung songs from 300 years ago.