On paper, the Victorian splendour of Kelvingrove must have seemed a brilliant venue for Celtic Connections.
It looks magnificent and you can squeeze 500 or so punters into the main hall. Unfortunately, the very magnificence of the architecture just does not allow for the sort of acoustic needed here. John Murry, opening for Cowboy Junkies, suffered horribly, his grunge-laden tunes sinking, almost without trace, into a sort of auditory soup.
Things improved considerably after Margo Timmins led her troops onto the stage and into the ethereal splendour that was Working on a Building. In fact, the opening two songs demonstrated the breadth of their writing, because song number two, Cause Cheap is How I Feel, rocked hard, with Michael Timmins' guitar squalling all over it. Amazingly, it is 25 years since their second album, The Trinity Sessions, virtually invented the whole alt-country genre and they came to the festival promoting their latest offering, a four-album set called The Nomad Series.
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Having freed themselves from the constraints of a record contract, they have ranged far and wide in these songs. The first album in the series, Renmin Park, for example, was inspired by a three-month visit by Michael Timmins to China. Despite the eclectic nature of the subject matter, to the uninitiated, it still sounded a little bit samey. However, there was no disputing the quality of the performances, with Margo Timmin's voice, in particular, in fine form, helped, no doubt, by the regular cups of tea delivered to her on stage. Blue Moon Revisited, from that seminal Trinity Sessions set, highlighted it to perfection, despite the Kelvingrove acoustic's best attempts to smother it.