It’s a family affair for opener C Duncan, with his parents on the strings and Uncle Stephen on keyboard. It’s appropriately wholesome in its gentle folk-pop, gussied up with lovely orchestral flourishes and occasionally nodding to the baroque. But it’s all grounded by Duncan’s earnest presence and clear love of the craft.
Anna Meredith and band, however, are a different prospect. Dressed in their trademark white with black zig-zags outfits, the assembled players are an intriguing cast. ‘Sawbones’ and ‘Inhale and Exhale’ immediately set the tone with big, bassy tuba and heavy double-drumming. The latter introduces Meredith’s chant-like vocals which are just as much encouragement to move as her flailing arms dance.
Much like her brilliant studio albums, the set switches between pop-adjacent electronica and complex compositions that bring in cello and sequencers, employing wild time signatures that belie Meredith’s background at the avant-garde edge of contemporary classical. However, a club-ready build and drop is rarely far away, whatever the weather.
The plodding brass of ‘Nautilus’ is an obvious crowd-pleaser, but the seemingly unfamiliar audience are happy enough with more intricate instrumentals like ‘Calion’ or ‘BPM 194’. However, the quietly enthusiastic crowd don’t seem as ready to rave as Meredith would like. This might be due to the Celtic Connections element, with some just taking a punt on something random after flicking through the catalogue.
But this isn’t a major barrier and it’s still a hell of a performance, with the band laser-sharp as you’d expect, but still loose enough to keep it fun. Case in point is the typically pop-cheese closer that Meredith always favours, this time opting for Elton John’s ‘I’m Still Standing’, which even morphs into a chorus of ‘Tiny Dancer’ at the end. There’s big, dumb karaoke energy that Meredith plumbs for all its worth, getting the people going and cementing her party-starting credentials.
(Images: Andrew McKenna)