Celtic Connections @ Glasgow Old Fruitmarket
Tuesday 28th January 2020
Nitin Sawhney is an artist that I’ve always wanted to see but never had the chance. more… “Nitin Sawhney”
So this is BM’s first gig of 2020, part of the First Footing events at the Blue Arrow more… “Wojtek the Bear / Check Masses / The Vignettes”
After several well-received gigs across Scotland, Celtic Connections signed up Band A to bring their interpretation of The Associates’ 40 year old debut album to a bigger venue.
‘The Affectionate Punch’ as an album is an overlooked classic, the band reaching into themselves to give us a mutant melding of pop, funk, cabaret and some unknown alchemy ingredient which no one can put their finger on… Not as popular as third album ‘Sulk’ it nonetheless set the blueprint for that album, ie we will do our way…
Band A do not aim to be an actual tribute act, they simply play the songs as their own versions, so much of the instrumentation is different, however they clearly love the album, are consummate players and add their own DNA to the versions they play tonight.
Oran Mor is pretty full and yes there are some members of Billy Mackenzie’s family and friends, former associates if you will, as the combo launch into Bill and Alan’s first single, a cover of Bowie’s ‘Boys Keep Swinging’, loud and proud, and from then on BM knew this would be a great night (she had heard of this lot by reputation and knew they had the blessing of Mackenzie’s nearest and dearest).
Lead singer Audrey Redpath does not attempt to ape Billy, just sing the words in tune and sometimes without the vocal hi-jinks that were on the records. She gracefully acknowledged the over-emoting sections of the crowd but kept the shit together, a true pro and probably the best representative of Billy’s work on earth in the present day.
The albums and its songs are complex and demanding for all the musicians but the full band (David Guild on chattering guitar, Brian Branford doing those crucial basslines, Mike Nolan doing a sterling job on keys and Ali Wilson battering up a racket when required on drums) do these weird and quirky songs full justice, sometimes emphasising their own arrangements (‘Even Dogs in the Wild’ got a full jazz treatment and was all the better for it) and sometimes just locking into the groove required for Redpath to emote the lyrics over.
The result was quite incredible and fully immersed BM in said album, right down to the last, ridiculous song ‘A’. The band did not stop there however and also gave us ‘Tell Me Easter’s On Friday’ followed by the song that most outsiders may know (‘Party Fears Two’ of course before a brooding version of ‘Twins of Gemini’ closed the set.
This show was true class, incredible musicians paying off a debt to other incredible musicians, some of whom are no longer with us. BM just hopes that Alan Rankine likes these versions and also thinks that albums two and three deserve the same treatment.
Well played to Band A, BM does not normally go for covers acts but this was truly something else…
This gig got BM’s live music experiences of 2020 off to an enjoyable and life-affirming start. more… “Colonel Mustard and the Dijon Five / Carla J Easton”
It’s become a bit of a standing joke round these parts – identifying the actual Celtic Connection more… “Kettle of Kites / Michael Timmons / Man of the Minch”
I think it was on BBC Alba’s coverage of Belladrum last year that I stumbled across the Local Honeys for the first time.
Now I must confess that I’m not really a fan of bluegrass music. There’s something about it that just doesn’t speak to me.
Perhaps I’ve just seen too many bad Americana-influenced cover bands? What struck me about the Local Honeys was their lyrics. They sing about real things. Life. Social commentary. That and I love their band’s name. Originally my plan was to see them in the Concert Hall rather than in St Luke’s in their support slot.
That change brought the bonus of seeing Tyler Childers too.
This was an all Kentucky affair. Both bands hailing from the state and deeply passionate about their music, community and culture.
The Local Honeys are Linda Jean Stokley and Montana Hobbs. The former playing guitar or Fiddle, the latter playing banjo or guitar.
It’s a simple set up of two instruments and two voices. They take turns to sing the lead parts and sometimes harmonies together.
With each song they gave a little intro and background explaining the story or the context behind the song.
Their song ‘Cigarette Trees’ is about the Martin County coal slurry spill which Montana Hobbs explained quickly but in great detail about how much of an environmental catastrophe that was and how people there still don’t have access to clean drinking water, nearly twenty years later. A cause that both bands on the bill have donated to.
Other lyrics touch on topics like opioid addiction. Not illicit ones but rather being addicted to pain killers, the causes and the effect is has on the protagonist’s life and relationships.
Now I realise that all sounds a bit grim on paper but fear not. They deliver these songs with a good dose of self deprecating humour and a warmth and tenderness. Like their intro to their song ‘I’m S.A.V.E.D’. “We made a Gospel record. But before your eyes glaze over it is a Gospel record from people who still like to cuss and drink beer”
Seeing Tyler Childers tonight was entirely a bonus for me as my real interest was with the Local Honeys.
They mentioned earlier that they were touring together and at some point Tyler would casually slip away to Los Angeles and pick up the Grammy he’s been nominated for before rejoining them in Berlin.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised because my God, what an amazing band! The songs are beautifully crafted and they had some really great musicianship on show.
It’s one of those gigs that I know I should be taking notes but find myself just happily lost in the music instead.
If they do pick up that award I doubt you’ll be seeing them in a venue this size again. Actually, that might apply to both bands.
In the last gasp of the run-up to the festive season, this was a relaxed affair more… “Loki / Rebecca Wallace / Victoria McNulty / Texture”