MUSIC: Lori McTear has come a long way since George Square debut

AS FIRST gigs go, Lori McTear's was quite something.

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Lori McTear is tipped to follow in footsteps of KT Tunstall and Amy Macdonald
Lori McTear is tipped to follow in footsteps of KT Tunstall and Amy Macdonald

At just 15, the East End songstress stepped on stage at Glasgow's George Square during a Winterfest band night to play to a busy crowd.

Three years later and she's gearing up for a slot at King Tut's tomorrow and then the release of an EP in the Spring.

"I'm a more confident performer now," she says.

"Even just with my voice, I feel that I've improved a lot. Confidence wise, I'm not standing there and feeling all tense and nervous and instead I'm feeling relaxed.

"I can talk to the audience and feel comfortable, or let loose on the stage and rock out a bit more. I enjoy it as a performance now, rather than worrying."

The 18-year-old former Bannerman High School pupil took up playing the guitar when she was 14, and started writing her own songs almost immediately, being taught at the Bridge in Easterhouse.

Now her folk and country-tinged style is earning praise from all who hear it, and she's already being tipped to follow in the footsteps of Scottish songstresses such as Amy Macdonald and KT Tunstall.

But it was that first live performance in George Square that really gave the cheerful teenager the musical buzz.

"When we did our first gig, I sat down afterwards and thought: 'this is something that I really want to do'," she explains.

"Everything just started to fall into place at that point. The gig was surreal. Even to look back on it I can't believe I did it.

"I remember doing six songs that night and thinking after they were done that I wanted to do more as the adrenaline was pumping so much."

Since then Lori has gigged regularly wherever she can, and she was delighted to pick up tips from the veteran Irish singer Eleanor McEvoy, whom she supported recently.

"I sat watching her after I'd played, with my jaw on the floor as she had the audience in the palm of her hand," recalls Lori.

I COULDN'T believe how she did that, and it was good to see how she interacted with the audience.

"I asked Eleanor for advice and she told me a couple of things about how I was playing the guitar and she was saying that having the audience sing the lyrics back to you will come in time and just enjoy it while you can."

Now Lori's supporting fast-rising Scottish pop band Little Eye at King Tut's tomorrow night, as part of the venue's New Year's Revolution festival which spotlights fresh local acts.

Lori's played King Tut's in the past, but it's still a venue that she gets excited to play.

"I can't wait, as there's something special about King Tut's," she adds.

"It's great to be playing New Year's Revolution as there's so many good artists playing it.

"It's good as a Scottish artist to see other Scottish bands all come together, as there's something nice about that, like a family coming together.

"Little Eye are brilliant. They have a really great sound and all the acts are really good. They all have their own sound without being too similar."

Lori's own sound has a mix of inspirations and influences.

Although her sound often suggests more folk and country than anything else, there's another genre that she's frequently inspired by.

"I love soul music, like Ray Charles or Aretha Franklin, I love the feeling you get from their music – it coming from the heart," she says. "But I love country as well, and the story-telling that you get from that, with acts like Johnny Cash."

After her current run of shows ends Lori will be heading into the studio to work on an EP, having already released the Freedom & Machine Guns and Lighthouses songs last year. Now she's planning to put more material on record.

"The plan is to tour just now, then there's an EP in March or April," she adds.

"I've done a couple of singles before, but not an EP and I have plenty of material now, so it's the right time to do it, and I'm really looking forward to that."

l Lori McTear, King Tut's, tomorrow, £6, 8:30pm.

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