Grace Petrie @ Summerhall, Edinburgh, 17 May

The Leicester singer-songwriter wears her heart on her sleeve and through a combination of sad and angry songs makes an Edinburgh audience very happy indeed

Live Review by Max Sefton | 21 May 2019

"I only have two types of songs: sad and angry," Grace Petrie tells the Summerhall crowd. A regular alongside Billy Bragg at Glastonbury and a veteran of tours with Josie Long and Frank Turner, the Leicester singer-songwriter talks a million miles a minute and wears her heart on her sleeve.

A few moments later she’ll confess that this is not entirely true, but for a succinct summary of where she's at, it’s a good place to start. These are songs that rage at the state of the world and light a candle for others to follow.

On stage she’s as much a raconteur as she is a singer, telling the tale of setting up her own folk club in her native Leicester only to be scolded by her girlfriend for thinking that Beeswing was a traditional song (it was in fact composed, she tells us, by former Fairport Convention guitarist Richard Thompson).

Sharply dressed in a waistcoat and tie – "there’s a reason I’m dressed like this, I have a snooker match after this" – Petrie introduces the paean to self-discovery and inclusion, Black Tie, with a lengthy winding intro that puts transphobia on blast. The huge cheers this elicits would not be forthcoming everywhere in the world so it’s good to see an artist using her platform to stand up for her beliefs.

Away from the politics, Petrie is a great storyteller. Ivy is a tribute to her baby niece, whose birth required a motorway dash to be home from Glastonbury in time for her birth. "This is my only happy song... Growing up, my sister was always the boss, well now the boss has a boss," she laughs.

At the interval, Petrie offers a reminder of the challenges facing a modern folk singer on the road, remarking "down with capitalism but please buy a CD". The second set of the night closes with the impassioned Farewell to Welfare (as blunt a demolition of Theresa May’s government as you’ll ever hear), the anti-fascist anthem They Shall Not Pass and a final heartfelt singalong of Northbound.

Grace Petrie’s songs may be either angry or sad, but her audience end the night very happy indeed.