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Review: Celtic Connections International Burns Concert, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Stuart Morrison's verdict: Five Stars

A joint presentation by Celtic Connections and Homecoming Scotland, this show celebrated the festival's coming of age, the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and, on Robert Burn's birthday, the international importance of the work of Scotland's national bard.

It may have been thought that the Hydro would be too cavernous to showcase the songs of Burns. However, employing the 70-odd strong Royal Scottish National Orchestra as the house band was a masterstroke. Any worries about filling the huge arena with sound were swept away by the truly glorious noise this lot made.

Dougie MacLean, for example, is unlikely to have performed a more beautifully arranged version of My Bonnie Dearie. But their influence on proceedings was felt throughout the night, from Capercaillie's opening song, Bonnie Jean, to the closing A Man's a Man for a' That, featuring the orchestra, the entire cast and the audience.

In between we had performers from home and abroad. Australia was represented by The May Trio, three young girls who performed a beautiful, close harmony version of John Anderson My Jo.

Raghu Dixit proved why he is so important in India's alternative music scene. Greek-Cypriot Alkinoos Ioannides dueted beautifully with Karine Polwart. We had Salsa Celtica teaming up with Julie Fowlis, proving that Gaelic mouth music and salsa do mix.

However, the icing on the cake was the appearance of veteran South Africans, The Mahotella Queens. Bringing the concert to a close in a riot of traditional costumes, harmony and dance, they combined a touching tribute to Nelson Mandela with their own infectious tunes.

They led the audience in an emotional Auld Lang Syne, during which, I suspect, there was not a dry eye in the house.

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