Well it’s that time of year again, time again for the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. We always go to several gigs during the festival, I think this year we’re being quite restrained and only have/had tickets for 4 events! We’ve been to two already, with two coming up next week.
First up, last weekend we went to the O2 ABC and saw Dublin band Kila, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. They were a new band to us though, they play a kind of fusion of Irish trad and world music, and were excellent (although to be honest by the end I did find them a bit trippy). The guy who plays the bodhran was like Animal from the Muppets, prowling all over the stage (at least when he wasn’t singing). I did think that they would go down an absolute storm at a festival like Womad. The support act was Scottish band Manran who I really liked (HD wasn’t so keen) – I hadn’t seen them before but had heard of them and heard good things so that’s why I took the risk in deciding on this being a gig to go to. They play traditional Scottish tunes, with a drum and bass added to give it a bit of extra oomph, I thought they were excellent. They didn’t have their singer/guitarist as he had norovirus, and at one point they were thinking they would have to cancel, but despite that I thought they did really well, including finding a guitarist with 2 hours’ notice!
Then on Thursday we went over to the Kelvingrove Museum and saw two more great acts. The headline act was Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares, a very famous Bulgarian women’s choir (with a couple of blokes thrown in for good measure) who I thought were extraordinary. The vocal sounds they made as well as the amazing harmonies (including quarter tones I believe) and fiendish rhythms meant that it really was something to behold, and they made it sound so easy! It wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, and it’s not something I’d listen to day in day out, but as a show it really was sometihng else and I loved it. Supporting them was English folkie Martin Simpson and Pakistani singer and guitarist Arieb Azhar, who have been working on a collaboration supported by the British Council and the Sage, Gateshead (there’s a bit of blurb about the collaboration here). I loved their sound, Arieb Azhar’s voice was beautiful and really suited Martin Simpson’s guitar and banjo playing. Well worth catching if you can.