Showing posts with label Celtic Connections 2015. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Celtic Connections 2015. Show all posts

Tuesday 17 February 2015

The Late Sessions Celtic Connections 2015

Wonderful Gaelic singer Mischa Macpherson 
Mhairi Campbell
Danny Kyle Stage

The Late Sessions Stage at Celtic Connections 2015 - the concerts were held at the Glasgow concert hall this year, from 10.30. The events are one of the festival highlights and are held over the festival weekends. Earlier the Danny Kyle open stage is held here too , and are an opportunity for new musicians to showcase their music. You can be lucky and find outstanding artists here and spend some delightful time with live music! One of my favourites! at the festival.

Twisted Pine

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Craig Armstrong's Music

The stage was set out wide over the first few rows to accommodate the full orchestra of the Scottish Opera on the concert hall stage - and I knew we were in for a treat! The concert was one of the sell out shows of Celtic Connections.

Armstrong is an award-winning Scottish film composer who has written music for films such as Romeo and Juliet (1996), The Great Gatsby (2013), Moulin Rouge and many more.

The songs from Armstrong’s latest album, It’s Nearly Tomorrow, were performed by some top class singers - Jerry Burns, James Grant, Clio Gould, Katie O'Halloran, Alison Lawrance, Ryan Joseph Burns, Alastair Ogilvy and Lucia Fontaine.

The Songs included -
Weather Storm, This Love (The Space Between)
O Verona, Balcony Scene (Romeo and Juliet)
One Day I'll Fly Away, Nature Boy (Moulin Rouge)
Infinite hope, Louisville, Lets' Go To Town (The Great Gatsby)
The Love Theme (Far From the Maddening Crowd)
Main Theme (The Quiet American)
Let It Be Love (As If To Nothing) 
Dust, Crash, Powder, Strange Kind of Love, Lontano, Sing, (It's Nearly Tomorrow)

The grand piano for Armstrong to play was however on the other side of the stage on the left of the stage and I wished he might have stood on occasions to introduce his music so those of us on the other side of the concert hall might be able to see him better. Otherwise my seat was great and near the front of the stage and the full rich sound of the Scottish opera orchestra wafted over us, to add to the full on drama.  

Behind the orchestra scenes from the movies he has scored were shown, while movie-like coloured spotlights hovered over the orchestra.

I particularly enjoyed Jerry Burns subtle performance of Dust, with her ethereal, haunting voice and The Love Theme from Far From the Maddening Crowd, and the very poignant and gripping finale of the Balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. 

Every year at Celtic I am astonished by the musical talent today in Scotland and beyond. Armstrong who graduated from the London school of music and is from Glasgow, is a wonderful example. He then served his musical apprenticeship at Glasgow's Tron theatre. The concert proved exhilarating, poignant and joyful.  

Armstrong sees no difference in credibility between popular and classical forms of music and he has collaborated with pop bands such as Massive Attack and as well as writing compositions for the SNO (Scottish National Orchestra). Film music has brought the full orchestra back into the mainstream and into peoples lives. 

Monday 2 February 2015

Van Morrison at Celtic Connections 2015

Morrison commanded the concert hall stage on the jazz and soul highway - a truly jazz inspired Celtic soul and all the way from Belfast city!

Morrison grew up with his Dad's record collection, the largest in Northern Ireland, (acquired during his time in Detroit in the 50s), and he learned from the likes of - Ray Charles, Lead Belly and Solomon Burke  -  of whom Morrison said,  "If it weren't for guys like Ray and Solomon, I wouldn't be where I am today. Those guys were the inspiration that got me going. If it wasn't for that kind of music, I couldn't do what I'm doing now."
The records exposed Morrison to many genres – the blues of Muddy Waters; the gospel of Mahalia Jackson; the jazz of Charlie Parker; the folk of Woody Guthrie; and the country music of Hank Williams.

When you have listened to an artist over many years it is quite strange to hear and see them live. There was that high level of eager anticipation in the concert hall air to see and hear one of our musical legends.  

He was in good voice and the sound mixing and band sounded just right. His set included sultry trumpet and sax solos. Morrison orchestrates his band, who framed him, with Strong arm conducting movements. He performed his soul-filled songs Please Don’t Go, Parchman, Don’t Stop, Moondance, Magic Time and a poignant Sometimes We Cry. He also sang a lovely cover of a Ray Charles song, I Can't Stop Loving You.
His band were tight and highly impressive while I did at times wish his guitarist on his right might have turned more to the audience as I enjoy seeing the musicians play too. There was no chat between his songs, then again Morrison's songs speak quite clearly for themselves.  

Van's music is smoking, sexy, smooth toned, sultry and also gravelly – he has a powerhouse voice and uses it to great effect like his saxophone. 
de-de-da-de-da; lonely, lonely, lonely flying, sighing; you know, you know; do-wop, do-wop,
Summer breeze in the garden, within the silence,


His musical narrative on tracks can be lengthy and spontaneous, even rambling, following his different influences - from Celtic tradition, jazz, blues, gospel and country music. 

I was happy he finished his set with his - Into The Mystic and Ballerina - after which he slipped off as he continued to sing to the side of the stage….and once again he was gone gone gone as quietly as he had arrived...... while the powerhouse of his musical voice lingered long after.....

He was well supported by gospel singers the McCrary Sisters. 

Morrison has received six Grammys and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He continues to record and tour, producing albums and live performances that sell well and are generally warmly received. In 2008 he performed Astral Weeks live for the first time since 1968.

Blood and Roses: The songs of Ewan MacColl

Neill and Calum MacColl
Concert for Ewan MacColl Celtic Connections 2015
A joyous celebration of the life and songs of Ewan MacColl and a family affair along with the English folk family the Carthys.  

MacColl was many things, a diamond in the rough - a self taught actor, playwright, author, singer, songwriter, activist, song collector. He is known for his part in the folk revival movements of the 60s. He wrote one of my favourite songs ever, the well loved - 'The First Tie Ever I Saw Your Face.'

He is also best known for his songs and tonight we were enriched by hearing them interpreted in the traditional tried and tested way by some of England’s and Scotland’s finest folk singers - Dick Gaughan, Karine Polwart, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, The Blue Nile's Paul Buchanan, American musician Chaim Tannenbaum, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, his sons Neill and Calum MacColl, and four of MacColl's grandchildren.
Neill and Calum MacColl

The event was organized by his two sons (with folk singer Peggy Seeger) Calum and Neill MacColl, and by Kate St John. His second wife Peggy was unable to be there due to illness.  For Peggy he wrote one of the most perfect love songs - The First time Ever I saw Your Face and Neill commented that his parents had a display they called the 'Chamber of Horrors' for some of the dire covers of this now very famous song. 

The band played acoustically and included double bass, accordion and guitars and with stripped back arrangements so the songs were able to shine through. On stage there was a backdrop of black and white images of Ewan and his wife Peggy Seeger.   
Dick Gaughan
**Some true gems tonight –
Scottish folk legend Dick Gaughan and Karine Polwart began the concert with a strong interpretation of Ewan's song Ballad of Accounting. Gaughan also sang a dramatic Father's Song. Karine Polwart's truly felt cover of the song Nobody Knew She was There.

I especially enjoyed the Blue Nile's Paul Buchanan’s subtle interpretation of The First Time Ever I Saw your Face which was full of honest depth and heart and with none of those trills or unnecessary overdone vocal gymnastics so common these days on reality shows.

Eliza Carthy, Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy
English folk singer Martin Carthy sang with character Champion at Keeping Em Rolling and Freeborn Man of the Travelling People. Eliza Carthy performed with honesty and verve the MacColl songs Alone, Space Girl and The Fitters Song. Martin and Eliza Cathy were joined by Norma Waterson to sing a moving interpretation of MacColl's The Moving on Song. 
Pulp's Jarvis Cocker sang in his own very unique way the song The Battle is Done With.  
American musician and philosopher Chaim Tannenbaum impressively joined the cast of players. He sang MacColl's Go Down Ye Murderers and My Old Man and the well-known song now in the folk cannon, Shoals of Herring. (For 40 years, folk music’s first family, the Wainwright-McGarrigle clan, has enjoyed Tannerbaum's quiet support.)

MacColl's grandchildren performed some shanties.  Calum MacColl sang the well kent Sweet Thames Flow Softly and Neill MacColl sang the poignant The Joy of Living, before the encore songs for us all to sing along with - Dirty Old Town and Manchester Rambler.  

Jarvis cocker
Martin Carthy
Ewan McColl concert PHOTOS -
MacColl was a fine storyteller with a magic way with words and wrote life-affirming songs. McColl died in 1989 at 74.
His wife, Peggy Seeger, now 80, still tours and records. She is an American classically trained musician and part of another famous folk family - the Seegers (Pete Seeger).  Her father was Charles Seeger, a folklorist and musicologist; her mother was Ruth Porter Crawford, a modernist composer who was one of the first women to receive a Guggenheim fellowship.

They are also known for their folk club, The Singers Club, in London and their Critics Group a "master class" for young singers performing traditional songs or to compose new songs. Seeger and MacColl performed and recorded as a duo and as solo artists;

A four disc boxed set of MacColl’s songs to mark the centenary, will be released later this year and will include some of the singers at tonight's show.  MacColl's parents were Scottish
He has released albums twenty solo albums and thirty albums with Peggy.