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Concert in the Gardens 2017/2018 - Rag'n'Bone Man, Human League, Sacred Paws

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

When Rag n Bone Man sings Auld Lang Syne following the eight minutes of fireworks choreographed to a mash-up of tunes by Skye-based band Niteworks that heralded the new year, he looks so little-boy pleased with himself that he might just burst. As well he might, given the year the artist formerly known as Rory Graham has had. Following collaborations with the likes of Kate Tempest, the Brighton-based rapper turned crooner's debut album, Human, was the fastest selling record by a male artist this decade, and saw him named as British Breakthrough Act at the 2017 Brit Awards.

For Edinburgh, Graham brought with him a seven-piece band, including a two-piece horn section, to accompany his set of nouveau soul epics. Prior to that, semi-local heroines and Scottish Album of the Year winning duo, Sacred Paws, opened the Waverley Stage programme. Expanded to a quartet, their fleshed-out dispatches from a post-punk global village made for an infectiously jaunty warm-up. The Human League's set of triumphal wine bar electro-pop saw singer Phil Oakey pay tribute to the Edinburgh-based Fast Product label that released their first two singles before a slew of eighties hits closed with the inevitable Don't You Want Me.

Over in Princes Street Gardens, the crowd very much wanted Rag'n'Bone Man, who seemed in genuine awe of the occasion, which allowed him to give full vent to his user-friendly gospel, delivered with a mile-wide grin throughout. For Human's title track, he “got so excited I nearly tripped over”, before the night closed with a rousing cover of the Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter. Reclaiming the song’s soulful roots, Rag'n'Bone Man and co built it up to kick-start a choreographed mini stage invasion that made for a joyous start to the year.

The Herald, January 4th 2018

ends

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