Opening Concert Celtic Connections 2023 review and photography Pauline Keightley
Opening night at Glasgow Concert Hall
I see young Gaelic singer Kim Carnie walking past with her newly straightened hair. I remember meeting Dick Gaughan waiting outside here when I asked him what songs he’d be singing for the concert. He’s so honest and down-to-earth. I’m also sad for the loss of the Scots legend songwriter Rab Noakes, who often performed and hosted major tribute concerts at the festival.
The baton is being past now to the new generation of folk musicians, while popular festival stalwarts are still here – Karine Polwart, Anna Massie, Michael McGoldrick, Donald Shaw, drummer James Mackintosh – who reminisce on their very first Celtic Connections concert. My first cc was opening night 2008, Transatlantic Sessions and Capercaillie Old Fruitmarket.
Tonight’s concert was a smorgasbord showcasing the range of talent on offer over one of the world’s largest winter music festival – with events at 24 venues across the city, from the Old Fruitmarket, City Halls, Oran Mor, Mackintosh Church, CCA to the concert hall; the centre hub with its Danny Kyle open stage and much more.
The opening concert celebrated Celtic Connections 30th year, and after two years of online events tonight’s packed crowd were more than ready to party again! The 35-strong big band, packed with quality strings, brass, fiddles, pipes and percussion, did not disappoint.
We were treated to – Sierra Hull’s energetic display on mandolin; Hebridean Peat and Diesel full on folk rock; Maeve Gilchrist soothing harp melodies; Mali’s duo Dre Cali impressed (normally a trio, with one member missing due to Brexit restrictions).
Liam O Maonial (of the band Hot House Flowers) dance to his melodic Celtic tunes; Rachel Sermanni haunting lock down song ‘Lay my heart’; and Mercury nominated Fergus McCreadie played silky, subtly nuanced jazz piano – which won him Scottish Album of the Year and a Mercury nomination for his 2022 album Forest Floor. There was high drama with the National Youth Pipe band and the Scottish dance theatre’s contemporary joyful display, while the big band held sway with original and challenging compositions. A diverse joyful night of live music.
Celtic Connections has taken the intimacy of live folk to a bigger stage and broader audience. The festival explores quality musicianship and singers, diverse collaborations and the ever popular lively ceilidh bands.
The Opening concert Big Band – Duncan Lyall, Sorren Maclean, Fraser Fifield, Patsy Reid, Graham Mackenzie, Laura Wilkie, Michael McGoldrick, Hannah Fisher, Ross Ainslie, Anna Massie, Greg Lawson,Alice Allen, Alyn Cosker, James Mackintosh
Photos & Review Pauline Keightley – https://pkimage.co.uk
This section: Celtic Connections 2023, Pat's Home Page Blog, Pauline Keightley
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