review Pauline Keightley
Celtic Connections 2012
A stellar cast took to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall at Celtic Connections 2012 to celebrate the life and fine tunes of singer/songwriter Gerry Rafferty. He certainly gave us unforgettable songs that stuck in our heads from way back in the 70s ? among them his biggest hits 'Baker Street' and 'Stuck in the Middle With You'.
The concert was led by former Humblebum member and friend, Rab Noakes, and Martha Rafferty, his daughter. Songs included those from Rafferty's time with the Humblebums, Stealers Wheel and his solo career. The Rafferty family, blended their perfect harmonies when they sang 'The Ark', 'Family Tree', and 'Whatever?s Written in Your Heart'. Noakes commented that only siblings can produce this special sound. Three of Rafferty's regular band members - guitarist Hugh Burns, multi-instrumentalist Graham Preskett and saxophonist Mel Collins joined with the house band Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire.
The Proclaimers gave a stirring performance of 'City to City'. Ron Sexsmith, all the way from Canada, sang 'Days Gone Down' - perfect for his strong vocals. Mark Rafferty sounded like Gerry on the wonderful song 'Mary Skeffington' and former Cream bassist Jack Bruce finished the first half with a resounding version of 'Shipyard Town'. 'Betsey Cook' and 'Barbara Dickson' provided spirited backing vocals.
This was a concert full of fine jewels. Highlights included Noake?s accomplished rendering of 'Moonlight and Gold'; Maria Muldaur?s beautiful blues-filled 'Another World'; the soaring vocal of 'Songbird' by James Vincent McMorrow and the Rafferty Family singing the moving 'The Ark'. Martha explained that this song best showed Rafferty?s philosophy about life.?
The rousing finale came with Paul Brady singing Rafferty?s biggest hit song 'Baker Street', after which the entire cast took to the stage for 'Stuck in the Middle With You', which had the concert hall audience on its feet.
These songs were led by the strong playing of lead guitarist Hugh Burns and saxophonist Mel Collins. Noakes provided the glue and character on the show with his stories about Gerry, the Humblebums, late night travels and more. He spoke of Rafferty?s intelligence and of his love of harmony; of his mystical and spiritual side; and of his strong will and self belief. He spoke of the poignancy yet hard core centre of Rafferty?s songs.
Rafferty?s songs cover the full spectrum of emotions, they express full-on energy, questioning cynicism and mystical spiritualism. He was from Paisley, Scotland and his music gave the folk song a new voice. He cared about the craft of the song and not celebrity or its trimmings. He was an artist in the true sense of the word and had a rare clarity of artistic vision.
The gig was a wonderful celebration of one of Scotland?s greatest ever singer songwriters. The performers did Gerry proud - the highlight of this year's Celtic Connections.
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