Celtic Connections

Arrest This Moment

Pavilion, Glasgow

Rob Adams, four stars

IF you’d told Michael Marra that he would become the subject of two sold-out posthumous Celtic Connections tributes, he’d have suggested that you stop trying to steal his sense of humour. The bard of Lochee didn’t court plaudits, although he did quite like – quietly - to be appreciated.

Following the large-scale concert in his honour at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in 2013 this was a more homely celebration with a small cast of family, friends and admirers, and it succeeded in bringing Marra to the stage. Not just in the recordings of his inimitable voice introducing some of his equally inimitable songs or in the excerpt from a Bonar Hall, Dundee gig that closed the evening.

He was there in spirit as frequent collaborator, dancer Frank McConnell choreographed – in a pair of Marra-approved stage footwear, baffies – old pal Rab Noakes’ singing of Take Me Out Drinking Tonight and as she show’s writer, James Robertson recalled typical Michael moments of his own and elicited memories from Noakes, McConnell, Michael’s daughter, Alice and youngest brother, Christopher.

The evening began with an overture of Marra melodies from Karine Polwart’s trio and managed to convey the size and diversity of a remarkable output: theatre work, paintings, short stories, miniature ship building, rock ‘n’ roll, endearingly daft variety shows. At its heart, though, were the songs, with Alice standing proud and singing Mother Glasgow and The Beast with all the humanity her father intended, Christopher applying deft slide guitar and Noakes recalling that the suits altering one song title, Peddie Street to Pity Street, proved the catalyst for the observational genius that we came to celebrate.