Reviews

Review: Amy Helm & Andrew Combs, Celtic Connections 2019 Rating 77%

Review: Amy Helm & Andrew Combs, Celtic Connections 2019

Amy Helm has a rich musical heritage, as she was brought up with Levon Helm as her father, the prolific drummer from The Band. American roots music has always been in her blood so, were we entirely surprised by her set? Well no, as she took Americana, gospel, blues and country and transformed them for the stage in Glasgow’s Oran Mor as part of Celtic Connections 2019. Promoting This Too Shall Light, Amy brought an all-rounded ‘circular sound’ to her fans, which received a vibrant reception.

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Review: Graham Costello’s STRATA Rating 95%

Review: Graham Costello’s STRATA

The music of Graham Costello’s STRATA is a bold, innovative and multi-layered thing of wonder, combining the polyrhythms, collective groove and improvisation of jazz, the raw energy and grit of post-rock and the ethereal and hypnotic qualities of minimalism. The band is drawn from the cream of Glasgow’s positively thriving jazz scene and comprises drummer, composer and bandleader Graham Costello, Fergus McCreadie on piano, trombonist Liam Shortall, Harry Weir on tenor sax, guitarist Joe Williamson and Mark Hendry on bass.

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Review: Peter Broderick Plays Arthur Russell, Celtic Connections 2019 Rating 95%

Review: Peter Broderick Plays Arthur Russell, Celtic Connections 2019

Sometimes it’s good to test the cohesion of unknowns and expectations. I’d never been to The Blue Arrow Jazz Club or seen Peter Broderick in any of his genre hopping incarnations either solo or with Efterklang before I went to see him sing Arthur Russell at Celtic Connections. I’ve obviously only ever seen Arthur Russell the late, equally multi-skilled cellist, experimental composer and generally accomplished musician, producer and singer in a documentary, so it was an evening of open- minded approach to the new. Before, and indeed at the sold- out gig, people said to me that they consider Broderick to be the real unsung hero of the Erased Tapes label, emphasising his skilled multi-instrumentalism and willingness to embrace the new. There was certainly a buzz about the small club where the bulk of the audience also came early to hear Gerard Black from Glasgow band Babe perform a solo set that clearly demonstrated his great vocal range and draw of melody, all tracks being well received by an upbeat and engaged crowd.

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Review: Late In The Day by Tessa Hadley Rating 95%

Review: Late In The Day by Tessa Hadley

In Tessa Hadley’s latest novel, Late in the Day, the lives of two married couples are forever changed by a premature death. Alex and Christine and Zachary and Lydia have been friends since their twenties. Now in their fifties they are still emotionally tied to one another, their friendship relying on each other playing their part. When Zachary dies a sudden and untimely death, the three remaining friends find themselves struggling with both the loss of the funny, grounding Zachary but also the changing dynamic he leaves behind.

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Review: Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook, Celtic Connections 2019 Rating 85%

Review: Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook, Celtic Connections 2019

Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook is a fantastic way to conclude the Celtic Connections, a medley of music connected to Scotland and cherished by Karine herself and the audience alike. A medley of songs that Karine Polwart and her band perform, with their own twist, she encourages that her fans join in too. Ranging from The Waterboys’ Whole of the Moon to Mary’s Prayer, which was composed by Gary Clark, there was a whole introduction to music I was not entirely acquainted with and for that it was great, and to top it all off the performances were spot on.

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Review: Stitch by Samuel Tongue Rating 68%

Review: Stitch by Samuel Tongue

Samuel Tongue has recently had a new collection of poetry published via the poetry publisher up in the rural heart of Aberdeenshire, Tapasalteerie. A collection that has a real focus on animals and how as humans we treat them, exploring the animals within us. It’s an interesting and varied collection, which investigates much of humanity and spiritual belief.

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Review: An Offering by Stewart Sanderson Rating 74%

Review: An Offering by Stewart Sanderson

Tapsalteerie Press have just published a new collection of poetry from the award-winning poet, Stewart Sanderson. An Offering explores the linguistic, natural and cultural heritage of this country, rich yet inquisitive in style. With titles such as Hamesucken, Iona and lastly, Leaving Europe, it’s a collection that delves into the history and brings us back to the modern day.

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Review: John Grant, Celtic Connections 2019 Rating 78%

Review: John Grant, Celtic Connections 2019

It’s been the most intriguing of journeys for John Grant, from a place in time when he feared he’d never make music again or escape a life of addiction, to winning awards and accolades, as well as the heart and soul of the Glasgow audience, as he performs as part of the Celtic Connections 2019. A gig that seemed rather far removed from this festival and not just in proximity (it was at the King’s), it also felt an odd inclusion for the festival, it held it’s own as the crowd danced and heckled fondly. Supported by his friend, E.B. The Younger, there were occasional intimate moments throughout the performance, which rendered the evening more entertaining.

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Review: Gemma Ray – Psychgeology Rating 75%

Review: Gemma Ray – Psychgeology

The word ‘rock’ has many meanings, but for Gemma Ray the most important is surprising for a musician, but you may be able to guess which it is from the title of her new LP. The Essex-raised, Berlin-based singer and songwriter is affected by the landscape and aims to explore this, when she takes to the road to tour. Whilst the term ‘psychogeography’ has certain been flung into the mainstream, Gemma Ray is drawn to the time-defying, time-defining outcrops that exist beyond our cities, and the manner in which this natural architecture underlines “how small we are, how trivial the most unsurmountable of our personal problems”.

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Review: Hen Ogledd – Mogic Rating 69%

Review: Hen Ogledd – Mogic

Founded by Richard Dawson, combined with harpist, Rhodri Davies, with the inclusion of Dawn Bothwell, Hen Ogledd have released recent album, Mogic, their third LP. The band’s name meaning comes from the Welsh name for The Old North and this record sees a change in the band, with the trio having expanded to a quartet with Sally Pilkington joining the talent, producing and recording perhaps one of their more conventional records.

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Review: The Dandy Warhols, Celtic Connections 2019 Rating 79%

Review: The Dandy Warhols, Celtic Connections 2019

The Dandy Warhols are celebrating the fact that they have hit their 25th Anniversary this month with a tour that incorporates a Celtic Connections gig in Glasgow. An unusual inclusion for the festival’s programme, the American lads, led by frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor, truly energised their rowdy fans, before concluding the evening with the dropping of balloons sparking the party vibe. Supported by French surfer-punk band Juniore, the fans seemed adequately satisfied as they left The Old Fruitmarket with the adrenalin of a satisfactory gig. With a setlist of more than twenty songs they ran us through their new tracks as well as their backlist, dragging us to a time when we were much, much younger…twenty five years younger to be exact.

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