CELTIC CONNECTIONS: Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Paul Buchanan, Aoife O'Donovan, Lau and Maeve Gilchrist

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall *****

THE ovation that Paul Buchanan received as he walked onto the stage told its own story. It was genuinely touching, a reminder of how much he is admired, fully twenty years after the last Blue Nile album, High, and 12 years since the release of his debut solo album, Mid Air.

Buchanan, one of the guests in an excellent show commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, sang three numbers - the title track from Mid Air; Let's Go Out Tonight, from the Blue Nile's second album, Hats; and a new song, Snow. Later came a spine-tingling version, from  the assembled musicians on the stage, of Happiness, the curtain-raiser on the third Blue Nile album, Peace at Last.

Online, there is speculation that a new solo Buchanan album might finally be on its way.

The Celtic Connections show was opened by the SCO, under conductor Eric Jacobsen, playing Mendelsohn's Hebrides Overture, before accompanying Maeve Gilchrist, the innovative Edinburgh-born, Brooklyn-based harpist, on The Harpweaver, from her most recent album. The luminous sound produced by the orchestra and Gilchrist's Celtic, or lever, harp was worth the price of admission alone.

Lau, the pioneering, awards-laden folk trio - singer and guitarist Kris Drever, accordionist Martin Green and fiddler Aidan O’Rourke - delivered three numbers, including the affecting  It'shardtoseemtobeokwhenyou'rennot, and they brought on Aoife O'Donovan and the Fair Isle-born singer and composer Inge Thomson for a particularly fine Cruel Brother. Lau's Celtic Connections gig with Kathryn Joseph at the Tramway on February 1 sounds unmissable.

The Herald: Lau with the SCO on the stage on Friday nightLau with the SCO on the stage on Friday night (Image: Kris Kesiak/Celtic Connections)Paul Buchanan seemed moved by the warmth of the reception as he entered from the wings with Donald Shaw, Celtic Connections' Artistic Director, who would accompany him on piano. The yearning, the emotional impact, of Mid Air and Let's Go Out Tonight were here magnificent, the instrumentation restrained yet telling. You really could hear a pin drop: and you thought wistfully of the times, too few in number, when Buchanan and the Blue Nile had graced this very stage.

The Blue Nile, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Finally it was the turn of Aoife O'Donovan, the Grammy-award-winning songwriter whose new album, All My Friends, is out on March 22. Its songs were inspired by the life and work of Carrie Chapman Catt, the prominent American suffragist and peace activist who died in 1947; the album was co-produced by O'Donovan's husband, Jacobsen, whose chamber orchestra also played on it.

O'Donovan, supported here by the Glasgow CREATE chamber choir, spoke of the suffragists' long campaign and alluded to "the similarities of what women are facing today. Her gorgeous opening song, All My Friends, is worth catching on YouTube.

All too soo, the show was over. The final song was a massed version of Happiness, the choir coming into its own near the end. And that, regretfully, was it. The lights came up, the audience sighed its regret, and the lights were dimmed again. The encores had not been rehearsed: "I don't know what we're doing", Buchanan confessed to cheers and laughter before having a quick discussion with Jacobsen. "I can do Mid Air and we could all do Happiness again ...."

Paul Buchanan on Scotland's favourite album, Hats

And so the SCO once more played the opening strains of Mid Air, with Shaw on piano.  Then, after Jacobsen had alluded to Buchanan's unassuming opinion that people would have had enough after three songs, all the musicians - Lau, Gilchrist, Thomson, O'Donovan and her bassist and drummer - returned to reprise Happiness. Drever took the first verse, giving way to Buchanan for the later ones. It was a joy to behold.

This was a concert that you wished could have gone on for longer. When the lights went up for good, two thoughts struck you with some force as you made for the exit: one, that the SCO really should do this sort of thing more often. And two: we need more Paul Buchanan in our lives.

As an admiring fan later posted on Buchanan's website:  "So many people crying happy tears tonight to hear a snippet of the soundtrack of their lives live. Hair on the back of the neck stuff. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. You are so loved here, Paul. Come back soon".