This gig got BM’s live music experiences of 2020 off to an enjoyable and life-affirming start.
This was a great pairing, giving Carla and full band (aka “The Dreamers on the Run”, featuring Paul Kelly playing some mean throbby bass) the opportunity to play loud in a bigger venue than usual, before the CM&TD5 madness engulfed the place.
Carla, looking confident and clearly enjoying herself (no pesky drum machine tonight!) was in great voice and played some new tracks along with highlights from the last album or two. She started with the still phenomenal ‘Bird in the Sky’ from her ‘Ette’ album from a couple of years ago. Steena from Honeyblood got up from the crowd to duet with Carla on new track ‘Weirdo’ and old favourites like ‘Wanting What I Can’t Have’ and ‘Lights in the Dark’. She got some good audience participation going as well on last song (another Ette classic) ‘Attack of the Glam Soul Cheerleeders’ – BM thinks Carla will have won over quite a few new fans on the strength of this joyous performance and apparently the next album is already in the can – go CJE!
The Dijon 5 don’t really do stage entrances, they stand around tuning up and then suddenly it starts, a massive groove, a party vibe and it just doesn’t stop until it’s over. Playing as a eleven-piece (if BM counted correctly) tonight, most of the usual elements were in place as they launched into traditional opener ‘International Sex Hero’. Only John McMustard actually makes a stage entrance, mainly because he is not carrying an instrument.
CM&TD5 just go from strength to strength, having developed their live sound (despite some appearances this is no novelty act, they could well be the best dance unit in Scotland right now, holding off stiff competition from the Brassholes) and at times they sound as smooth as an act like the Average White Band. They worked their magic on a possibly slightly more pedestrian Celtic Connections crowd than on some of the mental summer festival dates which have built their reputation but they won over any doubters early on and most of the almost sold out throng were dancing away the night through tracks like ‘Dance Off’ and ‘Cross the Road’. The several new songs played were also very good indeed, new single ‘BG’ and ‘Dance Like…’ which has the feel of a massive summer smash. There was crowd surfing and flag-waving by the ever-irrepressible DJancer, and there were a few political messages which marks this lot out for a bit of integrity among the madness…
The show closed with Dijons anthem ‘These Are Not The Drugs…’ Radio 6 music DJ Amy Lame and a whole lot of others up onstage. Another memorable show which shows the breadth of what Celtic Connections can do and yes another successful Dijons festival takeover – the first of the 2020 season.