Here we are in the Scottish borders.
It’s a beautiful summer’s night.
Ayton is a village.
It may even qualify as a hamlet.
If more than 37 people live within three miles of the Hemelvaart Bier Cafe I would be very surprised.
Yet it is here that Mark Morriss is playing to an audience of delighted locals and me.
As I enter I’m greeted by a local ploughing his way through the entire catalogue of the venues karaoke machine. I’ve had “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Mary’s Prayer” within the first ten minutes.
Like arriving at a family gathering to find Uncle David gamely serenading his wife with “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” after one, or two, too many.
It may also be the only venue where he has been asked what time he intends to finish…so that people know when they should book taxis.
“How are you? Was it a good harvest?” is Morriss’s greeting to this rural Scottish crowd, invoking nightmarish memories of Edward Woodward in “The Wicker Man”. The crowd take it in good part but one can’t escape the feeling that Mark may well find himself being subjected to erotic dance through the walls of his room above the pub later tonight.
If he’s lucky.
The set contains all the hits from The Bluetones that you could ever want; Slight Return, If…, Cut Some Rug, Sleazy Bed Track and plenty of others. In addition we get to hear songs from the Morriss solo years that show that he has not lost his mastery of melody or way with words; Roll Away and The Beans are just wonderful.
What tonight highlights is not just Marks abilities as a musician but his talent for crafting memorable moments in even the unusual of venues and most intimate of crowds.
He is, in truth, a star.
Catch him wherever and whenever you can.
Hello (Lionel Richie)
It’s Hard to be Good all the Time
Never Going Nowhere
Cut Some Rug
Duchess (Scott walker)
Silver Raven (Gene Clark)
Sleazy Bed Track
Hurt/Singing in the Rain medley
Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode)