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Anda Union With Frigg, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

It says much about Celtic Connections' promotional clout that two groups with not exactly household name status making their debuts together at the festival should attract such a good attendance as this in the face of strong opposition up the road from the fairly heavily marketed BBC Folk Awards.

And next time, you can be sure both Finnish fiddle troupe Frigg and Mongolian folklore specialists Anda Union will be headlining to even more people.

The Mongolians have some Scottish friends, having created quite a stir at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, and as they did there, they brought a marvellous sense of a long and still vibrant tradition with their bi-tonal throat singing, brilliantly atmospheric arrangements and dramatic songs of love, battles and charging horses superbly depicted by vigorously bowed two-string equivalents of the cello. In their formal costumes they look quite serious but there's mischief at work here and their playful dialogue as well as the soulful keening of their solo singers, their extraordinarily rich vocal and string harmonies, masterly flute and percussion and general joie de vivre deservedly took a trick with the Fruitmarket crowd.

With music containing familiar dance metres and occasional bluegrass and Cajun flavours, Frigg may not be quite such an exotic proposition but their superbly matched four fiddle frontline, buoyant string rhythm section and dynamic arrangements, complete with humorously choreographed movements, proved irresistible. Their attention to detail, particularly in the variety of endings, is especially admirable but overall they produced a level of accomplishment and musicality that puts them easily in the front rank alongside recent Northern European visitors such as Väsen.

HHHH

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