With very little in the way of expectation, I walked into the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow with the realisation that I was about to embrace something rather special, judging from those already queuing for this Celtic Connections gig. Anna Meredith, composer, producer and performer has a genre-defying sound which spans many worlds, contemporary classical, electronic, rock and leaves you somewhat uneasy but leaves you craving to dance, dance like you’re back in the Sub Club on Jamaica St.
Supported by Irish singer Patrick O’Laoghaire, otherwise known as I Have A Tribe, the concert came as a pleasant surprise, with a widely eclectic mix to suit many tastes. I Have A Tribe kicked the evening off, purely singer and keyboard, but not just any singer, a velvety tenor of a singer who vividly tells stories with his music. Indulging us with a short set of poetic, animated vocals, not too dissimilar to the sounds of David Thomas Broughton, O’Laoghaire was a charming addition to the evening.
Anna Meredith, who won the 2016 Scottish Album of the Year award, a lass from Edinburgh, has performed everywhere from the BBC Last Night of the Proms to flash-mob body-percussion performances in the M6 Services. Her debut album, Varmints was released in March 2016 on Moshi Moshi/PIAS to critical acclaim and was boosted by the award win. She is published by a new partnership between Warp Publishing & Faber Publishing, and is one of the first Somerset House Studios Residents. And if that’s not enough, she has also been Composer in Residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, RPS/PRS Composer in the House with Sinfonia ViVA, the classical music representative for the 2009 South Bank Show Breakthrough Award and winner of the 2010 Paul Hamlyn Award for Composers.
The stage was crowded with a band that included Anna on clarinet and electronics plus two cellists, electric guitar, tuba and drums but this only adds to the stimulating set, keeping the audience on their toes. At times, it felt like being at a classical rave, nothing quite like I’ve experienced afore, and her energy on stage transcends to the floor. Nearing the end of the set, we heard a classic West Scotland “Yaaass” as she builds The Vapours. Nautilus at times reminds me of that renowned Battles track, Atlas, and the tuba is an unusual but welcomed addition to the stage, as Tom Kelly’s talent is noted, as is those of the rest of the band. Sam Wilson’s vocals and drums don’t veer too far from flawless but the one thing that disappointingly lacks throughout the set are the vocals of Anna herself, as she fails to project for their bizarre cover of The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles.
However, she more than makes up for this with her energy and intriguing compositions. I am not sure I will be rushing out to see her live again but I can certainly say that I am glad that I did in this instance.
For more on the SAY Award winner do click here.
Photo by Kate Bones