Horse at the HAC

Posted on Sunday 16th October 2016 21:07 by FreckFest


Wow! Another Friday, and another sold-out gig in the HAC. Such was the demand for tickets for Horse’s show, we could’ve probably sold it out twice. The unlucky folk on the waiting list who expectantly held out for any returned tickets were left disappointed. There was not one return and not on empty seat to be found inside the venue.


Support act AK Garfunkel from Ayr had the tricky task of warming the audience up, which he went on to do with a well-paced set of acoustic originals and a touch of humour. “He’s only 24!” exclaimed Horse later on. “I didn’t sign my first record deal until I was 29. Same with KT Tunstall. This boy has a big future ahead of him.” High praise indeed from an act who’s carved out a successful niche in the music business for the best part of 30 years.


It was an interesting-looking audience inside the HAC, certainly not the audience we’ve grown accustomed to over the past few years. There were a high number of hardcore Horse fans; folk who’ve seen her perform for many of those 30 years, the sort of people who, in the same way that loads of folk buy season tickets for the football and follow their team home and away every weekend, go to every gig on every tour. As the show unraveled, they were easy to spot, mouthing every word to every song, cheering wildly as she introduced an old favourite or when she asked for help with the backing vocals. There were also many newcomers in the audience who were attending their first Horse show. Freckfest is starting to get a reputation for bringing only quality acts to the town, so it’s very pleasing to see people coming to our gigs on the strength of our endorsement.


You can count me amongst those newcomers, by the way. I’d never knowingly heard anything by Horse, so it was quite unnerving to recognise 3 or 4 of the tracks as they were played. Quite where I’d heard them from is anyone’s guess, but as soon as the opening song ‘Sweet Thing’ began, I immediately knew it. The first thing that strikes you about Horse is the voice. When she sings, she really sings. Hers is a voice that’s gymnastic-like; leaping through the octaves from baritone to tenor and back again with relative ease. At one point, she tells the story of how she has the unofficial world record for holding the longest note during a singing performance, then immediately follows the story with a terrific breakneck version of the old Horse hit ‘The Speed Of the Beat Of My Heart’ which features the very note. When she gets to it, you could’ve sucked the air out the room. Everything drops at once; the guitar, the foot stomping, the singing in the crowd, even the light seems to pinpoint just a fraction more, and the note comes out, long and strong, for a remarkably long. It’s very impressive.


Horse is not, if you’ll pardon the pun, a one-trick pony though. She follows her hour and forty minutes acoustic set (14 songs punctuated by some very funny, and at times very moving, anecdotal conversation) with an encore comprised of a handful of songs performed with the aid of orchestrated backing tracks – “to let you get a feel for what a full Horse show sounds like,” she explains. This allows her to forsake her guitar and concentrate fully on those amazing vocals. She harmonises with herself, asks the crowd to join in, dances with abandon, punches the air triumphantly and generally tears down the walls of the HAC. The whole show is over 2 hours long – which we at Freckfest reckon is our own unofficial world record for the longest Freckfest show ever.


Not content with that, Horse stays happily chatting to fans long after the final notes have faded until every last one has had a selfie with her, or a CD signed, or just a chat about what’s been happening in their life. It’s the only way to end a Freckfest show – our U.S.P., something you don’t get at many other gigs at all.


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