Celtic Connections

Just for Gordon/Dreamers’ Circus

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Rob Adams


There was never likely to be any doubt about the quality of music presented in Just for Gordon, a concert to mark the tenth anniversary of piping visionary Gordon Duncan’s passing. Not all of the tunes played were written by the prolific Duncan, but everyone involved was intent on following the spirit of a man of who let his music speak for him.

From pipe band to solo pipers, here including his brother, Iain, and from Scottish folk groups to the wider world, Duncan exerted an influence and left an indelible impression. It was great to hear stories from those who beat a path to Edradour in search of Duncan tunes and wisdom, and worth turning up just to catch sometime bandmate, fiddler Duncan Chisholm caress and pass on The Sleeping Tune to Susana Seivane, playing her native Galician bagpipe, the gaita, both capturing the soulfulness that Duncan exuded.

Jarlath Henderson, playing uilleann pipes, conveyed Duncan’s passion for the Irish instrument superbly, and Ross Ainslie, playing border pipes and a direct disciple, relayed the aforementioned spirit with fabulous warmth. In all, a handsome tribute with the star of the show absent but still very much present.

Something of Duncan’s spirit can be found in Scandinavian trio Dreamers’ Circus where ideas are transmitted from imaginations to fingertips to ears with devilish virtuosity and heart-stopping, stop-on-a-sixpence dynamics. Ancient-sounding tunes played on a fiddle made from a clog, gentle ukulele patterns merged with humming accordion and violin, and searching melodies cajoled along by tapped piano strings were just some of the ingredients in an utterly magical set that danced, swung and sang with creative brio.