Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Celtic Connections Glasgow 2008

I had an amazing few weeks at the 'Celtic Connections' traditional music festival here in Glasgow. It's massive - with workshops, concerts, clubs, a multitude of venues...more, for 3 weeks. Met many other photographers, felt overwhelmed, and had much fun. Some amazing singers, poets, artists, musicians from all over the world. Been busy editing my Celtic photos.

One of the world's biggest traditional folk festivals, Celtic Connections is in it's 13th year, and attracts musicians and visitors worldwide. It is jammed full of outstanding musicians and singers. The opening concert at the Royal Concert Hall is a showcase for the artists. It is good to see the many young artists excited to be playing here. The festival embraces many musical styles - bluegrass, country, classical, Blues, jazz, Celtic, world and more. Artists range from Scottish traditional singer Dick Gaughan (a Scottish legend) to 90s band Teenage Fanclub.  I enjoyed some younger artists also.

In particular Kirsty McGee Hobopop Collective who were supporting Capercaille – a new band with Mat Martin and the bluesy rhythms of Nick Blacka on double bass and tight with Rob Turner on drums. They do a mix of laid back jazz-infused acoustic tunes. I had no idea this was their debut gig, but I felt an energy and excitement and got some top photos. They had Karine Polwart, Inge and Annie all singing backing vocals on their last few songs, impressive! (Photos never lie!) They are a live project around Kirsty's Songs, check them out. The festival also focuses on traditional folk and new Scottish talent, with Showcase Scotland which is held over five days.

Favourite artists for me were (this isn't easy after hearing so many!) - the fun Scottish ceilidh band Session A9 who got the dance floor hopping;  Joan Osbourne from the US rich vocals; Karen Mathieson's haunting Gaelic voice; the top band at the TransAtlantic Sessions; the excitement of the Common Ground concert; Kristy McGee and Mat Martin Hobopo Collective (impressed with this new band's debut gig re my photos).
Sold out events included – Steve Earle, KD Lang, Teenage Fanclub, Peatbog Faueries, Capercaille, Dick Gaughan's 60th.

I had a wonderful time at the Celtic Connections festival and I saw many quality artists. Some artists do one or two reasonable songs and then struggle to produce anything nearly as good for years and years. What matters here is having momentum rather than consistency. A few singers have voices that make you sit up and notice, that grab you deep inside.'  Over 19 days, more than 300 events, 14 venues, over 1,000 artists.
Celtic Connections Opening Concert "Common Ground", Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Main Auditorium 2008 and with festival artistic director Donald Shaw on piano. The 17 piece band took over the main stage to open the 15th annual celebration of folk, roots and traditional music - and a showcase for young Scots and Irish folk musicians.
Singers performed songs with American Chris Thile on mandolin who performed with plenty of character. Scots singers were,  Karine Polwart, Kris Drever from the Orkneys, Mike Scott (The Waterboys), Julie Fowlis, James Mackintosh and Ewen Vernal. Karine Polwart, with her clear beautiful voice sang a traditional air.

Also Irish performers - Heidi Tolboot, Sharon Shannon, Luka Bloom, Damien Dempsey, Karan Casey, Michael McGoldrick and Jim Murray. Karan Casey sang unaccompanied and beautiful harmonies with Julie Foulis. She sang 'Washed up on a Distant Shore'. By contrast Damien Dempsey was a big guy with a booming voice over the packed audience. Irish singers have a grounding introducing their songs with quick wit down at their local pubs!

Kate Rusby sang John Barberry and High on the hill - she has a still presence and a clear stirring voice. For their encore the band, led by violinist John McCusker, performed 'Will Ye No Come Back Again' to an Irish Air.
There were perhaps too many reels for an audience bound to sit in their seats! There was plenty of vivid colours to entertain, from the deep reds to the moving blues. It was fun to see so many artists perform on the one stage in this casual, well rehearsed jam session, and it was clear how much of music, or any art, is about the 'personality'.

Richard Thompson Old Fruitmarket 2009

Richard Digs Deep
Richard Thompson @ Old Fruit market Glasgow 15th September 2007
I enjoyed seeing Richard, who recorded so many unforgettable folk/rock songs in the 70s, such as his well loved 'Bright Lights' album with Linda, back on form rocking with the songs from his new 'Sweet Warrior' Album. The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow's Merchant City area, is a recently refurbished venue and strung with coloured fairy lights along it's wooden balcony, offered an old-worldly feel. Richard 'digs deep' and always keeps it real, with expressive guitar and voice and lyrics that draw colourful stories, characters and emotive melodies. He eschews the 'commercial' and has always sought his own musical path. He played with Fairport Convention in '67 and took folk into an edgier folk-rock sound. Richard explored religious themes in the 80s and eventually settled in LA, where he re-married and continued his furious output of outstanding songs.

Richard also enjoys to rock it up and started his set with the full band, then took it jazzier, and next offering his acoustic songs - Persuasion, I Still Dream, his expressive guitar accompanying. His guitar and voice ache and sweep, then charge with clear anger, hurt or compassion.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Coldplay entranced the SECC

Coldplay entranced the SECC Glasgow 9th Dec 2008
Classic songs - ’Yellow’ and ‘The Scientist’. Great colours and effects.

This was such a feel good gig, with memories of large yellow balls dancing above the audience and lots of singing - while a slightly middle class, middle aged kind of gig. I went with my lovely daughter, Coldplay were the first band she was ever keen on. Their rapport to the audience was top class and Martin especially, who connected with a highly energetic interaction as he enjoyed leaping across the stage
He gave the audience time to sing and certainly their songs are very singable! They even took to the back of the stage and busked for one song. 

I enjoyed the gig hugely – it was full of life with vibrant energy and hope. When we left everyone was singing their 'La Vida'!

Some moving songs – ‘Fix You’, ‘Those Who are Dead Are not Dead, they are simply living in my head’. 

The support slots were awful though with some guy on electric keys. I said to my daughter what on earth kind of music is that – she replied ‘rubbish!’

The Sundowe Inverness

  *THE SUNDOWE - Eden Court theatre Inverness, 30th Nov 2007
The Sundowe is a musical written by Edinburgh writers and performers John, James and Gerry Kielty, and their band The Martians. Originally written as a radio show, and later as a television pilot, The Sundowe eventually became the basis for a modern musical. The storyline centres on The Martians themselves, as their street busking is interrupted by vampires, the local council and the return of dead souls. The Sundowe spins a spooky tale of ghostly happenings and betrayals - and yet never takes itself too seriously. Set in the backdrop of the cobbled streets of Edinburgh, Greyfriars graveyard, and the Scottish parliament. It is part comedy, part pathos, and with references to modern Scottish politics, Greyfriars Bobby, street busking & Scottish history.

The Sundowe went into rehearsals in October, and was performed in Eden Court theatre Inverness in November 2007. It was produced by Eden Court and the Cameron Mackintosh foundation.