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Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire, O2 ABC, Glasgow

Roddy Hart has become such a fixture at Celtic Connections he's in danger of overshadowing his own work.

Hart and his group, the Lonesome Fire, have served as house band at several of the recent all-star jamborees at the festival, but have finally re-emerged as an ongoing concern, with a fourth album slated for an April release.

There have been changes though, with the group dynamic much more to the fore and Hart, here sharply dressed like a genial dinner party host, less connected to the singer-songwriter fare of before. There was an obvious emphasis on making matters rockier, with drumbeats consistently aiming for an ominous thumping tone, while bursts of guitar suggested the Edge.

It was solidly constructed, well-played material, although two revamped older numbers shone brightest. Flames proved a jaunty, brass-fuelled power pop number, and Boxes was a vast, yearning torchlight ballad that seemed to encapsulate the epic nature the band were seeking.

Yet while the likes of recent single Bright Light Fever were easy on the ear, there was always a sense that the seven-piece, here aided by a brass trio, are missing that killer song, a tune or two to really grab hold of the senses. Ironically, the night's most leaden number, Ghosts Of Love, provoked the most strident audience response, despite its grandiose tone ending up overwrought.

When an altercation in the crowd broke out Hart joked that it was possibly the first time people had ever squared up at his show, and such a statement hinted at the passive nature that recurred too often for the night to be quite as triumphant a return as hoped.


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