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Lindsay Lou and The Flatbellys / Blazin’ Fiddles / Manran – The Barrowlands Celtic Connections 20th Jan 2017

A trio of tremendous acts wowed the 2000 sell out audience at the iconic Barrowlands ballroom as part of Celtic Connections Festival 2017. Rarely in it’s history has this venue had so much wonderful talent on the bill on the same evening.

First on stage were Michigan based band Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys bringing their bluegrass music to the east end of Glasgow. The majority of the audience were there to see the two Scottish bands that were to follow Lindsay Lou however they soon fell in love with the fantastic vocal range of Lindsay Lou ably accompanied by her husband Joshua Rilko, PJ George and Mark Lavengood. Their self penned songs including Ionia, Hot Hands and Old Song were very warmly received by the appreciative audience. As already stated Lindsay Lou has a wonderful voice which is complemented perfectly with the accompanying instruments of mandolin, guitar, double bass, cajon and steel guitar.

The tempo of the music and the noise of the audience increased somewhat as Blazin’ Fiddles took to the stage and started their superlative set with The Lads Like Beer. These incredibly talented musicians know how to get an audience going and they did that easing from one fast set to even faster ones. Coupled with their superb musicianship and witty repertoire Blazin’ Fiddles are the complete package. A March, Strathspey and Reel set including the tune The Cambridge Caravan Catastrophe just got faster and faster and it was a wonder that the fiddles didn’t burst into flames such was the speed of the bows crossing the strings. With tunes dating back to the 18th century such as She’s Sweetest When She’s Naked to some brand new music, this performance really had everything. The current line up of Bruce MacGregor, Jenna Reid, Rua MacMillan, Kristen Harvey, Angus Lyon and Anna Massie are incredibly talented musicians in their own right but collectively they are exquisite. A new album is in the making and should be due out in the summer. I’m already looking forward to it with great expectation.

If the noise rose when Blazin Fiddles took to the stage the roof nearly came off and the spring loaded dance floor was tested to its capacity as Manran took centre stage and drove the audience wild with delirium as they opened with Fiasco and Trod,  the two opening tracks of their brand new album. This evening was the launch of their much anticipated album An Da La – The Two Days. How Ewen Henderson could play the bagpipes in the lively opening tune of Fiasco which would leave most pipers out of breath, put his pipes down and immediately take lead vocals in Trod (another very lively song) beggars belief. Not only is Ewen the piper for the band and the lead vocalist he also plays the fiddle too. Whilst the majority of Manran’s songs are done in Gaelic it doesn’t matter a jot to their loyal following. I doubt if over half the sell out audience could speak Gaelic but it didn’t stop them thoroughly enjoying every song sung and every note played. Focusing predominantly on tracks from the new album including a solo song by the newest member of the band Craig Irvine Alone and Autobahn , the band  also played some of their old favourites. Having been in the periphery of other bands in their genre recently this new album and the performance tonight brings them right back to the forefront of the  Celtic Rock scene. Comprising of Ewen Henderson (Vocals/Fiddle/Pipes), Gary Innes (Accordion), Ryan Murphy (Uilleann Pipes/Flute), Ross Saunders (Bass), Craig Irving (Guitar/Vocals), and Mark Scobbie (Drums) this band are definitely a force to reckon with.

This was a very entertaining evening with three very different bands. If you get the chance to see any of them I would recommend doing so. Irrespective of age or gender you will thoroughly enjoy them.

Danny Matheson

            Blazn’ Fiddles