The Fountain

Review: Phamie Gow and Phriends, Fringe 2019

If it’s true that friends are the family we choose then Phamie Gow comes from a greatly talented background with multicultural and global siblings.  Last night was a clan gathering hosted by the world renowned composer and performer in her hometown of Edinburgh that could not disappoint given her ten million plays on Spotify in the last year and previous performances including the opening of the Scottish Parliament and the closing ceremony of the London Olympics amongst many others.  

We were led on a journey of solo performances on acoustic and electric harps affectionately known as “Mr Harp” and “Black Magic” along with pieces on piano and songs composed over her career spanning a discography of twenty years including The Angel’s Share (Acoustic Harp) a trilogy encompassing Larva, Warsong and Rhapsody in Red, (Piano). Carousel (Piano) is inspired by the Place de la Comedie in Montpellier and the hauntingly evocative and entrancing The Milky Way (Piano). In the opening set we were introduced to the  first of her “phriends” Mario Caribe (Double Bass and originally from Brazil) , Su a Lee (Cello and originally from Korea) and Fraser Fifield (Scotland, low D Whistle and Soprano Saxophone) who provided accompaniment on Follow your Heart (Phamie Voice and Piano), Goodbye to the Sea and Sailors (Phamie Voice and Piano), the moving tribute A Tune for Ronald dedicated to her former piano teacher, Ronald Stevenson and Traveller of the Waves(Phamie Voice and Piano).

Alexander McCall Smith was invited on stage to share two of his poems The Language of Pilots and Seasons of Happiness. BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the year, singer James Graham was then given the opportunity to sing Bu Tusa an Gaol (You were the Love on my Mind) Phamie’s single with lyrics by Aonghas MacNeacail released in July of this year.  The second set brought more “phriends” Kevin MacKenzie (Scotland, Acoustic and Electric Guitar), Sega Seck (Senegal on Drums) Benilde Foko (Cameroon on Bass Guitar), Robert Young (Scotland, Cajon) and Mattie Foulds (Scotland, Drums) contributing to a melting pot of jazz Afro/Celtic fusion. The pieces included Heelstergowdie, Rain, La Vida Buena, The Stone Dance of the Chameleon (inspired by the works of J.S.Bach, William Byrd and Kora player Toumani Diabate commissioned by Ricardo Pinto) (Phamie solo Acoustic Harp), a debut of The Traveller (Phamie Vocals and Electric Harp) a single released last week and inspired by a desire to visit Africa and no doubt extend her family. Dancing Hands rounded off the evening .  

With fifteen pieces of music including two debuts of singles, poetry and ten “phriends” on stage this was a show worthy of more than one night in The Queen’s Hall.