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Live review: Bow Anderson at Edinburgh's Sneaky Pete's

A review of Edinburgh singer Bow Anderson's homecoming performance at Sneaky Pete's (22 September 2021) where she shows us why she's being heralded as the next big Scottish singer.


Late-Night Grungy Music Bar’ is how Google Maps describes Sneaky Pete’s. The tiny venue in the heart of Edinburgh’s Cowgate isn’t the type of place that you’d expect to find a typical pop star. But then again, Bow Anderson isn’t your typical pop star.

Her soulful tales of empowerment have a retro feel to them that goes against the current pop production route. It’s propelled her to the mainstream where she’s been heard on everything from national radio to Love Island.

And this isn’t a typical show. Due to a certain pandemic, this is only the second time she’s headlined a gig in her home city. It’s easy to see why she’s nervous but she needn’t have worried, backed by the enthusiastic following of her family and friends.

The first thing that hits you is her voice. Any fears that she won’t sound good live or that the venue doesn’t have a decent sound system are dispelled with set opener ‘Island.’ Amy Winehouse Size 6 pumps are big shoes to fill but Anderson gives it a go with a range tinged with blues.

She’s ably backed by a tight band who guide her through songs from her New Wave EP. The likes of ‘Black Heart’ and ‘Heavy’ have the crowd eating out of her hand along with her telling the audience that’s she’s “roastin’” much to everyone’s amusement.

Stand-alone single ‘Hate That I Fell In Love With You’ sounds as good as the rest of her material but it’s the cover of the Tears For Fears song ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ that takes things to another level. Stripped back to minimal backing it demonstrates both the rawness and the restraint of her voice in spectacular fashion, giving the classic a whole new breath of fresh air.

Anderson jokes that if it was a bigger venue she’d head off stage and come back for an encore. As the crowd chants "One More Tune" she pretends to go off and come back before ending the show.

And what a song to finish it on. ‘Sweater’ an ode to surviving the anguish of having a broken heart isn’t just her finest moment in her career so far, it’s one of the best songs released by a Scottish artist in years. It’s one of those rare songs that wouldn’t be out of place on the Motown label. It’s that good.

The set isn’t the longest but it is the perfect calling card for her ability and potential, heralding the arrival of a role model and The Next Big Thing in Scottish music. And when it’s done she heads outside to chat to acquaintances and strangers, greeting them with the same levels of excitement.

Bow Anderson has it all. She’s talented and likeable, assured and humble. She’s reaching for the stars while keeping her feet firmly on the ground, and she’s destined to conquer the music scene.

And she’s going to do it one ‘Late-Night Grungy Music Bar’ at a time.

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