In some ways this year’s Celtic Connections line-up isn’t as good as it has been in the past.
It lacks big names and there’s a lot less in the way of ‘world music’. Maybe that’s down to work permits and visas or maybe that’s just a choice.
But in other ways it’s actually better than previous years as there’s a lot of emerging Scottish talent that has being given quite prominent support roles.
Here it was Annie Booth in that role. I saw her perform recently at our pals Last Night From Glasgow’s all-day mini-festival.
On that night everyone was rather well-oiled by that time (except me) and were all quite noisy. She just took to the stage, picked up the guitar, strummed a couple of chords and then started to sing. Within about 5 seconds the whole room just shut up and she had their total attention.
Here in Drygate she has the opposite problem. It’s a seated gig and everyone is very quiet, civilised and orderly. I’m never sure of why some of these gigs are seated. Sometimes it takes a bit of life out of the crowd and lack of feedback freaks out the performers, experienced or not.
I still think Annie is a really good performer with a good strong voice. Her songs are well constructed with clever lyrics and a bit of an edge to them. And they seem well received by the audience.
If you like an artist like Robyn Hitchcock who writes intelligent, witty and surreal songs then chances are you’ll actually listen to someone else doing a similar thing in their own way.
And he’s great. Do you need me to write more?
“I’m Robyn Hitchcock from Nashville Tennessee,” he said as he appeared on the stage.
And then proceeded to play none of his country hits.
If he had put down the guitar, pulled up a chair and spent the whole gig just recounting the stories behind each song I think this crowd would have still loved it.
His stories are hilarious and the back and forth banter with the crowd and the sound guy even more so: “Can you give me some reverb on the guitar so that it sounds like I’m playing 12 string along with Richard Thompson….. but in another room”.
Best thing about that request is that he actually got it. It sounded like that.
He’s just one of those effortlessly cool artists that you just can’t help but love.