Chuffed with the reviews for Pulse at the Fringe

Pulse at the Fringe was by far the highlight of my career, never mind my summer! It was the most wonderful thing to do. As the run of shows went on, I found my energy levels just kept going up and up, which wasn’t what I expected, but I was glad of it. Promoters from across the world came to see the show so we’re following up with them and setting up tours, with possible upcoming trips to New York City and India! Summerhall was a great venue and good to hear that it’s become the new home to the Edinburgh Folk Club. Thank you to audiences, reviewers, supporters and all who welcomed the show with such open arms.
Here are some excerpts from the reviews that came in for the show, which I’m really chuffed with.

Jenny Davidson – FringeReview 2016-09-13

Mairi Campbell takes the audience on what initially seems like trip into her personal biography, but turns out to be something of a more universal examination of finding your own voice, your own pulse, your own music 

The stage is sparsely furnished with just a chair, a music stand and a rustic tripod with a stone pendulum hanging from it. Mairi Campbell appears wearing a loose dark dress and begins to tell the story of her life from her late teens to her early 20s – clearly a formative period for who she has become as a person and a musician – using spoken word, song, dance, live and recorded music and projected lights.

Initially Pulse seems like just a piece of personal biography. Campbell begins with her studying classical music at the Guildhall in London and struggling to fit in. Instructions are barked at her – ‘soften your jaw’, ‘stop tapping your feet’ – and something doesn’t resonate with her. Here the meaning of the word pulse becomes clear: it is both the pulse of your own life and the pulse of the music, finding your own rhythm or a type of music. This is echoed in the pendulum, which is could symbolise a metronome, the passing of time or a heartbeat, but in its rusticity suggests something primitive and ancient.

Read the full review here.


Natasha Tripney – The Stage

Mairi Campbell is a Scottish folk singer and musician. In Pulse, her debut autobiographical solo show, part of the Made in Scotland showcase, she explores her own story through music, dance and performance.

Scottish music, its rhythms and traditions, run through the piece. Campbell studied at Guildhall originally, where she felt restricted, prevented from tapping her feet in time with the music and expressing herself fully. So she roams, to Mexico and Canada, exploring different musical traditions along the way and having relationships with a series of men, trying to find herself and her music.

She discovers Canadian step-dancing, the beat rising up through her feet, and it changes her – this old-new form of movement – it reshapes her approach to song and story.

Read the full review here.


Musical Theatre Review – Fiona Orr

For those unfamiliar with traditional Scottish music of the people – not the bagpipes and drums on the battlefield or the Royal Mile – but the intimacy of a voice creating amazing sound; this show is an education waiting to be found. What Campbell does here is invite the outsider in: full of generosity, she tells her very own story of how her life not only includes music, but has been lived through music.

Opening with a soundscape that urges her to take up her violin and play, we are taken back to Campbell in the 1980s and her training at the Guildhall in London. Here, she is instructed on how to become ‘an instrument’; the goal was all about training the musician to play their instrument in such a way that they could perform the works of any composer and respond to the preferences of their given conductor.

Read the full review here.


Three Weeks – Aida Rocci

“Fall in love with Scotland. Take your time.” That’s the advice Mairi Campbell’s grandmother gave her, and these words also encapsulate the audience’s experience in ‘Pulse’: a slow but deep falling in love alongside Campbell as she searches for her voice. Through music, theatre, poetry and movement, Campbell weaves a carefully detailed story of her relationship with music and her culture. From the first moment of this journey, the award-winning Scottish musician’s bare and unabashed honesty captivates you, and every time she plays the viola, an unspoken sense of belonging inundates the room. Even if you’ve never heard her music before, or never listened to Scottish folklore, by the end of ‘Pulse’ you’ll feel transformed.

Three Weeks *****

Read the full review here.


TV bomb

Pulse is a clever show. Covering the time from Mairi Campbell’s final year at world famous conservatoire, Guildhall in London, and journeying to the present day where she has found her heartbeat, her pulse, the vein that runs through her Scottish music journey. The show tells a story through music, drama and dance written by Campbell herself in collaboration with director, Kath Burlinson.

The story starts with Campbell finishing up her musical education and yet, for her and the audience, the journey is only just beginning. Campbell felt stifled at Guildhall and like they had taken the heart, the pulse, away from her music. They had taken the love and the creativity away. She returned to Lismore and was encouraged by the locals to go and ‘find herself.’

The show then takes us to Mexico where she describes a humorous lust for the wrong man and on to Cape Breton where she finds just what she is looking for – something new (yet old) and exciting – step dance.

Read the full review here


TSOTF – the Sick of the Fringe

Full disclosure: when I hear Mairi Campbell’s voice, I feel at home. Campbell’s version of Auld Lang Syne is my regular YouTube go-to cry-song (it featured in Sex & the City The Movie) and when I hear her voice I feel safe, and warm, able to cry… I feel home. Watching Campbell’s journey to find her home and her authentic voice, therefore, felt like a journey I already associated with her.

Much has been written on the science of the voice and of music (Wellcome Collection’s This is a Voice exhibition being a recent major example), from the study of how the voice and ear physically understand and receive sound, to the chemicals released in our brain upon hearing music, to the physical benefits derived from dance. In Mairi Campbell’s Pulse, however, it is the quest to find the music which suited her body, to find the music which fit with her bones, which is the central journey. The history of music (and folk music in particular) is inherently bound to questions of nationality, or migration, of colonialism, and of intercultural exchange – and this is an area around which Pulse treads lightly – but in Campbell’s journey, an idea of ‘home’ feels less psychological or political and more physical, even genetic.

Read the full review here