All Will Be Well

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

TRIBUTE nights featuring stellar casts have become a regular and successful feature of Celtic Connections in recent years, but emotions ran that little bit higher at All Will Be Well because it was staged within weeks of the death of its inspiration, Michael Marra. Contributions from leading lights Pat Kane (Mother Glasgow), Dougie MacLean (Neil Gow's Apprentice) and Eddi Reader (All To Please Macushla) gave the evening genuine star quality, but the contributions of Rab Noakes (an engaging and understated MC for the evening), Kris Drever and Marra's daughter Alice somehow carried greater sincerity, while John Spillane was close to the star of the show with his tempestuous renditions of two of the more pointedly disparaging of Marra's extensive catalogue, The Homeless Do Not Seem To Drink In Here and Chain Up The Swings. Marra's claim that he had never wanted to see his name in lights, "only in brackets", as recounted by Noakes, would surely have been satisfied by the range and quality of the performers, not to mention the obvious respect, admiration and love felt for him by artists and audience alike. No moment was more poignant than the final words of the evening, sung with melancholy by Alice Marra, the closing refrain from his tongue-in-cheek would-be Scottish national anthem Hermless: "naebody'd notice if I wisnae there/if I didnae come hame for ma tea". If it's still hard to accept that the opportunity to see him perform will not come around again, this was the next best thing.

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Donald Cowey