Horse McDonald is a Scottish singing sensation. She walked onto the Fowler’s Live stage, smiled warmly, removed her jacket, picked up her guitar and proceeded (for almost two hours) to entertain an adoring crowd who would have happily stayed for another two.
Horse writes her own songs and they are universal songs for everyone. She has a three octave range with a rich timbre in the lower register and powerful, clear notes in the upper, and she moves effortlessly between them. She can belt with the best of them but she is also melodious, gentle and sensitive.
A mean guitar player, Horse filled the theatre with syncopated rhythms and delightful melody lines. Her Scottish lilt is most appealing, and she exudes warmth and charm as she talks about her songs and her life. There is something about her radiant personality that makes an audience feel that they are in the company of a very good friend. Horse gives a great deal of her time working with, or talking with, lesbian, bisexual, gay and transvestite young people: she would be a comfort and inspiration for them as is expressed in her LGBT charity song “It Does Get Better”.
Most of her songs are positive and, unsurprisingly, about love: she lets loose her vocals on “Sweet Thing” and “Soldier of Love”, and she is explosive when she performs “I Adore You”. It’s not an easy thing to get an audience to sing along – especially as Horse had suggested that, in her experience, Australians don’t have a great sense of rhythm – but she set us a challenge and we happily joined in.
Horse’s anecdotes are highly entertaining: she talks about every country having “bogans”, but in Australia people are proud to carry the label. There are also songs she has written, however, that allow her to vent her anger and frustration. And when she sings about LBGT people experiencing hard times, pain and suffering, her poignant words reach everyone in the room.
Horse spoke movingly about her parents and her loss when they died, then gave an emotional rendition of “Heaven Can Wait”. As soon as she sang the lyrics “I thought you would live forever”, the audience was captivated and immersed in her sorrow.
It has been something of a coup for the Feast Festival to bring Horse to Adelaide; I hope she can come again. The more people listen to Horse songs and attend her concerts, the better the world will be.
Horse McDonald performed one show only at Fowlers Live as part of the Feast Festival, which continues until November 30. She will be performing again in Mt Gambier on November 21.
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