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Kettle of Kites / Michael Timmons / Man of the Minch

Celtic Connections @ Glasgow Hug and Pint (Friday 25th January)

By • Jan 25th, 2020 • Category: Gig review

It’s become a bit of a standing joke round these parts – identifying the actual Celtic Connection that many of the acts possess.

No such trouble with opening act Man of the Minch – Pedro Cameron is from round these parts, formerly a fiddle player with bluegrass act the Dirty Beggars before embarking on what is a more pop sound.

Joking that tonight’s lineup is a curtailed version of the full eight-piece recorded band, rather than dance mixes we’re offered more of a toe-tapping set, albeit with emotive lyrics. High points include ‘Rosanna’ – a plea to the parents of a friend scared to come out due to “less understanding” parents than the singer, while ‘Circles’, “possibly” the next single, though as yet unrecorded, is another fine piece of Glaswegian Americana.

Michael Timmons

Recent single ‘Undertow’ closes a well-received set, drawing on the harmonising talents of singer Emilie Boyd as well as some lovely guitar work from Craig Salter.

If there’s one thing Michael Timmons possesses, it’s that dour, deadpan humour beloved of indie acts like Arab Strap and ballboy.

There, these comparisons end. Armed with just his instrument the singer-songwriter silences, then enchants the throng with a selection of downbeat ballads illuminated by his shimmering, echoey guitar work, and soaring vocals redolent of Paul Buchanan or Thom Yorke.

Delving into the atmospheric debut album ‘Bone Coloured’, we also get a compelling selection from his forthcoming sophomore release, which we’re informed will have a much brighter outlook than its less-than-cheery predecessor – before launching into ’10 Days Before You Died’.

Timmons allows the audience the chance to chat as hw sorts out his “weird tunings”, before letting us “get on with the rest of our lives” and closing with ‘Hold On Sea’ – as catchy an embodiment of darkness as you’re likely to hear.

Kettle of Kites have traveled to Glasgow from Italy – so singer Tom Stearn informs us. It does appear that the majority of the crowd require no introduction to the band, who are fronted by the former Admiral Fallow member but whose lineup also includes members from England, Belgium and Italy.

The occasion, apart from a trip home for the frontman and a Celtic Connections set, is to properly unveil their recent long-player, ‘Arrows’. A sci-fi concept album – as Stearn freely admits – it’s based around the work of Isaac Asimov, although, they say, not every song on it is about robots. Indeed, ‘Orchid’ again draws from the American writer’s predictions of climate change, and the band deliver a swelling, melancholic take on the album’s centrepiece, displaying the virtuosity of the four musicians on stage.

It’s ‘Arrows’ closing number ‘Oliver’ – another one about robots, Stearn jokes – which also rounds off the band’s homecoming show. An epic piece of post-rock that builds and ebbs before rising to a rousing finale, it’s the perfect end to a short but perfectly-formed set. You get the feeling that they’re going to fit in round here just fine.

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