Seated in low-lit Teviot Debating Hall, there is a very much a sense of anticipation in the audience waiting for Roo Panes to come on stage. Formally a Burberry model, it would be easy to overlook Roo’s talent as a singer-songwriter. Yet when he does enter the stage with his opening song ‘Ran before the Storm’, murmurs from the audience are quickly silenced by his 12-string guitar and soulful voice. Slightly reserved, but captivatingly so, Roo introduces himself and his band who accompany him on the cello, drums and keyboard. They excitedly tell us that this is their first night of their tour around the UK for Roo’s upcoming debut album, Little Giant, to be released later in October.
Originally hailing from Dorset, ‘Roo’, short for Andrew, first picked up the guitar at the age of 13, after being inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan and Nick Drake as well as being an avid reader. Initially securing an audience for his music through doing Burberry Acoustic Sessions, much like the folk-singer Johnny Flynn, Roo has already released two EPs in the last two years. However, in spite of this achievement, in the Debating Hall, Roo sings with a feeling of contemplation and introspection as he muses on a love affair in the song ‘Weight on Your World’. Looking just beyond his guitar, he soothes “all will be alright, so sleep and just leave it all behind”.
Halfway through the gig, Roo attempts to switch to a new electro-acoustic guitar only for it not to work. Stepping off the stage, he unexpectedly walks down the aisle in the middle of audience, beginning to play his song ‘Know Me Well’, simultaneously projecting the strength yet vulnerability consistent in his melodies.
With his band perching on the edge of the stage appearing aptly bohemian, they encourage the audience to sing along in various harmonies and clap along.
By the end of the set, there appears to very much be a feeling in the audience of having being part of a very magical evening. To the delight of the room, the band return to the stage for an encore, finally closing with ‘Glory Days’, with its rich tone from the cello and building rhythm from the drums setting off several tapping feet as the night ended. Roo Panes continues to prove he’s as easy on the ear as he is the eye.