Robyn Hitchcock + Annie Booth @Celtic Connections, The Drygate, Glasgow, 26th January 2020

There are precious few things better than spending an evening in the company of Robyn Hitchcock and when that evening is being held in a brewery, than, all the better for that. However, this wasn’t a raucous event, with a seated audience mainly drinking in Hitchcock’s songs and his usual, unusual song introductions. Two songs in he did sing us ‘I Pray When I’m Drunk’ (scoring the first fish mention of the night with mackerel) but any hedonism was confined to his recollections of a legendary Soft Boys’ gig back in 1980 in Paisley’s Bungalow Bar -several of the audience tonight proclaiming their attendance also. Continue reading “Robyn Hitchcock + Annie Booth @Celtic Connections, The Drygate, Glasgow, 26th January 2020”

The Felice Brothers +The Rails+ Carson McHone @Celtic Connections, St Luke’s, Glasgow, 24th January 2020

On a recent Friday night in Glasgow’s East End, at St Luke’s, around the corner from Barrowlands, Ian and James Felice glance up at the room that they could have sold-out many times and smile to themselves. It’s their first visit since 2016 to one of their cities. They built their tour around this Celtic Connections date and with bassist Jesske Hume and drummer Will Lawrence adding to the vocal make-up, the band appear to have discarded their chaotic label but still combine musicality with spontaneity and wry wit. Continue reading “The Felice Brothers +The Rails+ Carson McHone @Celtic Connections, St Luke’s, Glasgow, 24th January 2020”

Elaine Lennon + James Edwyn @Celtic Connections, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 24 January 2020

Had the Cheshire Cat appeared on stage tonight, its infamous grin would have been eclipsed by that of Elaine Lennon’s as she surveyed the sold out crowd populating The Glad Cafe for her album release show. Lennon’s been something of a local phenomenon having made her debut live appearance just one year ago, an appearance under the aegis of Celtic Connections when she appeared at, and eventually was a winner at the Danny Kyle open stage event, an annual talent show which attracts acts from all over the UK and abroad. The winners are awarded, aside from the accolades, a gig at the following year’s festival and thus here we were. Continue reading “Elaine Lennon + James Edwyn @Celtic Connections, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 24 January 2020”

Simone Felice + Diana DeMuth, The Slaughtered Lamb, London, 15th January 2020

The Slaughtered Lamb is a tiny space for a headliner as big as Simone Felice – it’s a basement room below a pub with maybe a capacity of a hundred, or a hundred and fifty at a push, set up with tables, stools, side benches and a standing area behind all of these. No surprise then that it was already near full for support Diane DeMuth, whose new album ‘Rose of Nantucket‘ was produced by Simone Felice. DeMuth is a leather jacketed troubadour with a powerful voice. Her set found its ground with what were – more or less – love songs, but really hit its stride with the songs that had that Felice influence. Continue reading “Simone Felice + Diana DeMuth, The Slaughtered Lamb, London, 15th January 2020”

The Lone Bellow + Tommy, St Pancras Old Church, London, 23rd January 2020

The charming and atmospheric St Pancras Old Church, dating back to the Norman era,  was a perfect setting for an intimate set by The Lone Bellow, the second of two sold out shows. Performing as a trio, rather than the augmented line up seen on earlier tours, the format for their set was mainly acoustic and unplugged, with amplification provided by a single microphone, ‘bluegrass style’, around which the band formed a tight grouping, with the exception of opening song ‘Wonder’ and set closer ‘May you be Well‘, which featured Brian Elmquist on piano. Continue reading “The Lone Bellow + Tommy, St Pancras Old Church, London, 23rd January 2020”

Peter Bruntnell + Mally Smith @Celtic Connections, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 23rd January 2020

It’s traditional now to note that Peter Bruntnell is a true “cult hero” (courtesy The Guardian) and is commonly regarded as one of the UK’s best singer-songwriters and performers by those “in the know.” So it was great to find him popping up at this year’s Celtic Connections playing with his, by now, well-seasoned trio line up featuring Iain Sloan on guitar and pedal steel, and Danny Williams on double bass. Since this line up’s debut back in 2017 they’ve had time to hone their chops and tonight’s show was certainly the best this reporter has experienced in their company so far. Continue reading “Peter Bruntnell + Mally Smith @Celtic Connections, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 23rd January 2020”

Frazey Ford @Celtic Connections, Saint Luke’s, Glasgow, 23rd January 2020

Touring before a new album is released can be risky. There’s a desire from the artist to showcase their new material but these are songs that the audience doesn’t yet know. The sense of audience expectation is based on much loved tracks from previous albums and snap judgements can made on unfamiliar new songs. Frazey Ford notes that tonight’s Celtic Connections’ gig is essentially the first that she’s playing to tour her new album ‘U Kin Be The Sun’. It’s a risk she recognises as she observes that she’s “Here to play some old songs, to play some new songs and to try not to f**k things up.” Continue reading “Frazey Ford @Celtic Connections, Saint Luke’s, Glasgow, 23rd January 2020”

The Teskey Brothers, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 23rd January 2020

When it comes to roots there is no disputing the authenticity of Australian blues and soul band The Teskey Brothers. Behind their own inventive style lies a deep inspiration from Memphis to Muscle Shoals via Melbourne.  The Teskey Brothers are guitarists and vocalists, Josh and Sam with long standing friends Brendon Love (bass) and Liam Hough (drums). Their two albums of blues and soul sound like a Stax back catalogue.  Continue reading “The Teskey Brothers, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 23rd January 2020”

Tyler Childers + The Local Honeys @Celtic Connections, St. Lukes, Glasgow, 19th January 2020

Last time Tyler Childers played Celtic Connections he was hunched behind his acoustic guitar, every inch the talkative Kentucky hillbilly, regaling the audience with tales of “snipe hunts” and the story behind his song ‘Purgatory’. Two years on and he’s an AMA award winner (although he’s not a fan of the term Americana) and, with his buddy, Sturgill Simpson, selling out stadiums in the States. No surprise then that this was one of the hottest tickets at Celtic Connections, sold out with a queue of folk outside this east end church looking for spare tickets. Continue reading “Tyler Childers + The Local Honeys @Celtic Connections, St. Lukes, Glasgow, 19th January 2020”

Tyler Childers + The Local Honeys, Academy 2, Manchester, 18th January 2020

Almost two years ago to the day, Tyler Childers played a solo acoustic set to less than 100 people in a small basement venue in central Manchester. Today he is again in town, only this time he is playing with a five-piece band at a sold-out Academy 2 (capacity 950). That’s a considerable upgrade over such a short period of time. It’s particularly impressive for a young man who avowedly describes himself as a country singer and whose recorded output, whilst reflecting the present, is so deeply rooted in past traditions. Continue reading “Tyler Childers + The Local Honeys, Academy 2, Manchester, 18th January 2020”