Celtic Connections Opening Concert with Laura Marling – review by Pauline Keightley
I arrived early while people were setting up their stalls of accordions, pipes and folk CDs. Someone was playing piano and preparations were being made for the open mic. And so #ccfest begins for another year celebrating live music, special collaborations, brilliant musicianship and perfect singers performing songs of quality.
Celtic Connections sometimes offers particular gems and there were several tonight for this opening concert. The first set for this evening’s celebration of women and song included six artists backed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO).
Songwriter Karine Polwart performed a poem about new president Trump.‘I am worn but I am not consumed,’ a message from the rocks of Lewis to the son of Mary MacLeod. She also sang ‘Cover Your Eyes’ and ‘Half A Mile’. Karine wrote a performance piece ‘Wind Resistance’ for the Lyceum Edinburgh, which will be performed at the Tron Theatre as part of Celtic Connections.
Adam Holmes and Rachel Sermanni sang with lilting country harmonies. There was a moving performance from Aziza Bahim, from the Sahara, and her accomplished band. Her joy of music brightened her life in an Algerian Refugee Camp– an important element of Celtic Connections is bringing different cultures together and recognising the plight of those suffering great hardship.
Another performer was Cara Dillon, who having previously recorded with an orchestra, was in a familiar setting. She sang the traditional song ‘She Moves Through the Fair’. ‘Lindsay Lou’ and the Flatbellys entertained with their fun rhythmic American tunes and Declan O’Rourke, with big voice, was another hit .
In the second half of the concert Laura Marling gave a still, introspective performance. She stood centre stage with the orchestra behind her and sang of her journey in song – with words such as “I will not be a victim of romance”. On one song she tells herself to “breathe”. She sang songs of winter, romance and memories. There was also a nod to Leonard Cohan with the song ‘Avalanche’.
Marling is an accomplished and moving artist. She performed a stunning suite of her songs including: ‘Take The Night Off’, ‘I was an Eagle’, ‘You Know’ and ‘Breathe’ – composed by Kate St John. She also sang, ‘What He Wrote’, ‘Sophia’, ‘Hope in the Air’ and ‘Goodbye England’. Her voice is both doubting and, at times, questioning reminiscent of the nuanced style of Joni Mitchell and the hard edge of Dylan.
She is an award-winning English folk singer songwriter who began her career aged 17. Now 26, she has released five studio albums.
This concert offered tasters of some of the outstanding artists who will perform at Celtic Connections this year.
Celtic Connections is a major folk and roots festival running over 19 days and 19 Glasgow venues. It is now celebrating its 23rd year.
Photo and Review Pauline Keightley – http://pkimage.co.uk/
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