Michelle Shocked: Truth vs Reality

Michelle Shocked

Strawberry Jam Tours

The Boards, Edinburgh Playhouse

From 02 August 2017 to 16 August 2017

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

Michelle Shocked is angry. Anyone seeing Truth vs Reality will immediately understand why.

The performance under review was built around acoustic guitar renditions of the songs from her popular album, "Short Sharp Shocked", which will please fans and have them tapping their toes, even if the audience at the final preview were reluctant to sing along.

The story that Miss Shocked tells really is a shocker. From early days post-university, the future singer-songwriter wanted to rebel and was swiftly branded an anarchist, a description that she wore with pride.

Ironically, while trying to escape material reality, a bootlegger turned her into an overnight sensation, after recording what eventually became "The Texas Campfire Tapes", and releasing a single without the artiste's knowledge, let alone permission.

A trilogy of successful albums ensued followed by a long silence which is finally explained.

Despite right-on, politically correct credentials of the first order, the Born Again Christian managed to offend the gay community, allegedly because someone failed to spot irony, although early in the run, the story is admittedly under-rehearsed and gets a little bogged and watered down in the telling.

Whatever the underlying truths, the Texan is furious at the idiocy of social media including a major corporation that blithely spread salacious stories taken out of context and also proved to its own satisfaction that while copyright applies to songs, the spoken links at concerts are fair game for illegal recording and broadcasting.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, after four years of blacklisting, Michelle Shocked now has a soapbox from which to fight back.

She does so with passion and sweetens the pill with the live performance of songs from an iconic album that still sounds good and timely thirty years after its initial release.

At present, this is a 5* music show and around 2-3* for the story but should be sharper later in the run.