Easter Road locals Hibs had travelled west to Glasgow, beaten Rangers 2-1 at Ibrox, then come home to blue skies. And local boy Ross Wilson had returned to the city to do an intimate gig in the unique event room of Victoria Park House the same evening.
It was a slightly odd venue. We weren’t entirely sure we were in the right place to start with. It was very much a hotel, but thankfully our nervous “are you… eh… here for the gig?” was met with the affirmative rather than the feared “no mate we’re here to sleep, it’s a hotel, please get out”.
It was a very unique gig too. A special, intimate night in Edinburgh.
Ross Wilson plays under the name Blue Rose Code. He’s a well-known name and face both in Edinburgh and beyond in the world of folk music, and he’s currently on a tour of the UK. His album 'The Water of Leith' landed to rave reviews and was even ranked Scottish Album of the Year for 2017 by The Skinny.
The day before his Leith hotel gig, Blue Rose Code was playing the O2 ABC in Glasgow - no small venue - for ‘Celtic Connections’. The Victoria Park House gig was something quite different. It was a gig billed ‘for fans only’ and barely advertised. At it, Ross was there (with helping hands on other instruments) to do a one-off performance of breakthrough album ‘The Ballads of Peckham Rye’ from 2014. And that he did - plus a few extra hits.
Ross’ own description of his sound as 'Celtic lullabies and Caledonian Soul' is a great fit. It's a brand of music that makes you pine for the coasts and hills of Scotland, that romanticises the streets of the capital and that lets you lose yourself to the Edinburgh skies no matter what their colour.
We first came across Blue Rose Code on Roddy Hart’s wonderful BBC Scotland show, and have been absolutely hooked ever since. If you’ve not heard of Ross before, ‘The Ballads of Peckham Rye’ are a great place to start.
Scot language is present in various songs from Blue Rose Code, who is now actually based in London, and Scotland is at the centre of many of the songs, but ultimately the biggest pull of the music is the originality of the lyrics and the foot-stepping music.
'Boscombe Armistice' is a lovely opener - “My granny said boy boy boy you'd cause war in an empty hoose” - and follow up ‘Silent Drums’ bursts into colourful, catchy, upbeat Celtic riffs after a lengthy intro, and captures the imagination with thoughts ranging “from the sun rising in the east to the dawn across the Hebrides”.
‘True Ways of Knowing’ is a brilliant modern take on classic Celtic melodies and ‘Edina’ is the obvious point-to song for many fans. It’s a song that sees Ross pining for the streets of Leith from faraway London and particularly played in front of such a small crowd in the area it was a special moment.
‘Green and white on a Saturday, hurling through the turnstiles singing all the way down Easter Road / would you forgive me / what do you say Edina?’ got a particularly warm reception, which isn't surprising given that ‘Easter Road’ was replaced by ‘Ibrox Stadium’ by Ross to mark the occasion.
“Even though I swore I'm never coming home again, I know / Would you forgive me, what do you say, Edina?” followed by beautiful violin will also not be forgotten by those in attendance.
Some popular hits from the new album - a really great record - followed, including radio favourite ‘Sandaig’, and it’s safe to say that everyone left delighted to have got the opportunity to attend such a unique and special show.
If you’ve not come across Blue Rose Code, we’d really recommend checking Ross’ stuff out. It’s beautiful music which switches from slow and patriotic to upbeat celtic dance-inducing in a moment’s blast. It’s a great time for Scottish folk music at the moment, and Blue Rose Code is one of the reasons we’re so excited about the scene.