Sunday, 29 January 2017

Celtic Connections , Gig

Made in Perthshire

It's difficult to review a show that's a curated collection of artists. Made in Perthshire was put together by Ross Ainslie and Patsy Reid for the 10th anniversary of the Perth Concert Hall in 2015. Reprising the show in Glasgow provided the opportunity for a wider audience to dip into this celebration of music from the environs of Perth (though like us at least one musician lives far south of the border).

made-in-perthshire.jpgPipes, strings and choir added texture to what was an unashamedly folky evening of Scottish music. The highlight was Lisa Rigby's unaccompanied Fortingall Working Song: an spellbinding tale inspired by the stone in Glen Lyon beneath which lie plague victims "taken here on a sledge drawn by a white horse led by an old woman".

Scottish stories in song: a wonderful end to a great weekend away.

Posted by pab at 21:02 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Celtic Connections , Gig

The State Broadcasters

Not wanting to do Bella and the Bear a disservice, our first comment on leaving The Hug and Pint on Great Western Road tonight was agreement: "That was much better than last night". We were mainly referring to the support acts, but the headline was better too.

We'd first heard of The State Broadcasters because they're on the same record label as several other artists that we've come to know and love, but it's fair to say we didn't know much about the band themselves. Tonight's gig was slightly taken on trust, but we were far from disappointed.

Slow service in a cafe up the road (they had to make a burger from scratch, including mincing the beef) meant that we arrived partway through Alan Tennie's opening set, but it didn't take long to realise that he was a gem of a performer. Where the previous night's support acts were obviously pushing themselves hard to hold the stage, Alan's wistful, melodic songwriting was a delight.

Next up was Nadine Khouri: one woman with a guitar, but what variety! Soul, blues, folk with hints of rock, Nadine's playing was wonderful, coaxing percussive and varied musical sounds from her Gibson ES. She was a joy to listen to as she pushed herself, if a little rough around the edges. And her voice was spectacular.

state-broadcasters.jpgGiven the excellent support, The State Broadcasters has a tough job but they pulled it off well with a joyful performance. Clarsach (Celtic harp), trombone, harmonium and double bass joined the usual guitar, keyboards and drums with lead vocal duties shared amongst four members of the five piece band. Adored by the sold-out audience (including family members) the band's tender songs won everyone over.

We came away with a couple of CDs, and three acts that we hope to see perform again.

Posted by pab at 23:53 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Celtic Connections , Gig

Bella and the Bear

When we first visited the Celtic Connections festival two years ago we stuck to big gigs in huge venues. We're back this year for three days, and have picked shows in much more intimate surroundings.

Kicking off proceedings tonight in Broadcast on Sauchiehall Street was Tom Vevers: one man with a single vocal style (slightly over-exerted), one way of playing guitar (furiously strummed chords) and songs that were each a minute or two too long. Sorry, he couldn't raise much interest from us.

Next up was Owen Carpenter aka CRPNTR. Initially playing solo and reading poems, his charming stage presence made up for his arts-studenty, overly complex phraseology, but he really came to life in the last couple of numbers when three friends joined him on stage and added much-needed depth to the sound. There's something here that could be great, but it needs development.

bella-and-the-bear.jpgFinally, Bella and the Bear. Emma had previously come across them while researching for Solas, and it was on the strength of this that we booked the tickets. They didn't disappoint. Lauren Gilmour and Stuart Ramage sing songs in a conversational style, crammed full of melody and close harmony. They were clearly thoroughly enjoying playing, and captivated everyone squeezed into the basement of the pub who'd come to see them. Suffice it to say we immediately bought all their available recordings. Highly recommended.

Posted by pab at 23:46 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!

Saturday, 21 January 2017


Rogue One

noodle-nation.jpgIn a week when international politics increasingly resembles far-fetched fiction, even stories set "a long time ago in a galaxy far away" somehow seem more like documentaries. I wanted to be lifted out of my life tonight and transported to a positive place. Instead on screen I saw more megalomania, war and conspiracy with only the slimmest glimmer of hope. I'm sure there's a good film here somewhere, but it wasn't the film for me tonight.

At least there's always the pre-film meal to enjoy.

Posted by pab at 22:50 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Celtic Connections , Comment

Son of Lewis, lonely boy

Bless Karine Polwart for responding thoughtfully yesterday at the opening concert of Celtic Connections to today's inauguration of a divisive president.

Your mother was a wee girl once,
who played upon my rocky shore.
And you, you are broken boy,
and you want more and more and more.
You build a tower. You build a wall,
You live in fear that they might fall.
You who see nothing but your face
in the sheen of The Hudson River.

The world needs more quiet revolutionaries like Karine. "I burn but I am not consumed."

Posted by pab at 21:09 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!