Three class acts conclude the first weekend of the Celtic Connections with a chilled evening of stunning songwriting, acoustics, piano and jazzy blues. A varied evening of talent, there is a great mix of modest artists impressing the audience to varying degrees with their sound.
Birmingham-based Chartreuse are somewhat jazzy blues with a real focus on dark indie alternative pop songs. Opening this Sunday night shindig in the remarkable new auditorium in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the band delivered an impressive set. Three Days, seductive, sultry, with those vocals and that snare was enough to win anyone around.
Rory Butler, less structured and more improvised, Leith-based musician took a moment to warm up, but by the time he hit those John Martyn chords (he covered You Can Discover), he was more than cosy. With clear influences drawn from John and Joni Mitchell, there was an anecdotal style to his music. Linda’s Cafe, with the lyrical repetition and delicate strumming, is a treat on the ears. Cigarettes and Silence, Mind Your Business, Tell Yourself all showcase the talent of this local musician. There was no surprise that he was involved in last years Celtic Connection highlight, the tribute to John Martyn. Adept guitarist, wonderful storyteller, Rory Butler was a highlight of the evening that is releasing a new album, one to be on the look out for, judging from tonight.
Lucy Rose, headliner with her extensive band of seven, followed from this. Kicking off with Nobody Comes Round Here on piano, she set the tone for the evening, subdued and delicate with a stunning control of her vocal. It was clear we were in for a delightful evening, and it was confirmed seventeen tracks later. Two drummers, two on violin, one cellist, one on bass and a guitarist, there was a sophisticated sound to this evening’s entertainment. One could never guess that she was thirty, there was a maturity to this performance that blew me away. Admitting that her last album, No Words Left, was influenced by her turning thirty and the struggle she felt with that, there was a cleansing honesty and openness about tonight’s performance.
Pt 2, a cinematically evocative and chilling performance, was a highlight of the night. Her last show in the UK on the tour, this singer/songwriter stole the show, finishing up her tour all impressively polished. With her guitar that was recently gifted to her for her 30th (from 1947), she strums unassumingly. At piano, she holds your attention, as expressive in performance, as in song. Lucy Rose is not going to stop at thirty, that is one thing that is very clear amidst this dreamy, reflective acoustic pop.