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Review: Celtic Connections

Capercaillie

TOWERING PERFORMANCE: Superb range and grace as Capercaillie deliver the smoothest of performances, bringing the audience out of their seats.
TOWERING PERFORMANCE: Superb range and grace as Capercaillie deliver the smoothest of performances, bringing the audience out of their seats.

Capercaillie

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Stuart Morrison

It was of particular satisfaction, on a night when a television programme alluded to identifying The Voice, to find the actual voice was standing right in front of us at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. For, if there is a finer voice than Karen Matheson's on God's green earth, I have not yet heard it. Sure, she is no Katy Perry or Beyonce in that she doesn't bellow in the manner so beloved of modern producers of female pop records. She does, however, possess the most superb range, control, restraint, grace and in the truest sense, class.

And it is class that made such a difference here. They all wanted the ball, to use a footballing analogy and knew exactly what to do with it. From the back, where Che Beresford's gloriously understated, yet compelling, drums merged seamlessly with Ewan Vernal's fluid bass, through Manus Lunny's bouzouki pyrotechnics (I'd never heard one played through a wah-wah peddle before) and Charlie McKerron's fiddle wizardry, to the stellar front line of Matheson, Michael McGoldrick and Donald Shaw. The band were celebrating their thirtieth anniversary, so they've had a wee while to get the hang of it and a new album was released last year. The title track, At The Heart Of It All, proved one of the evening's highlights. Joined by traditional music superstar Kris Drever on vocals, this was Capercallie at their smoothest.

Julie Fowlis was another special guest whose vocal harmonies with Matheson were special indeed. We had songs and mouth music from all over the Scottish traditional music map and a bone fide top 40 hit in the shape of Coisich A Ruin.

Then there w ere the instrumentals. The atmosphere in the concert hall does not encourage mass whooping and hollering and it took the third set of jigs and reels of the evening to get the audience out of their seats and dancing, which was a pity because by that time we were on the last encore.

No matter. This was gob-smackingly good and if the rest of the festival comes anywhere near this standard, all will be well.

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