Live review: Celtic Connections 2010

The CHEMIKAL UNDERGROUND (ABC1, January 31) showcase for their 15th anniversary gave fans of the seminal Scottish independent record company a chance to hear short and sweet sets from pretty much every act on their current roster.

ADRIAN CROWLEY had a satisfying full-band sound, but the man himself came across as being a bit charmless, which is very unusual for an Irishman.

Glasgow-based group ZOEY VAN GOEY couldn’t be faulted in the banter stakes, with Canadian member Matt Brennan recounting a (surely made-up) conversation he had with his mum when he proudly told her that his band had signed to a Scottish record label:
Mum: “I hope they’re not drug users and satan worshippers.”
Matt: “No, not at all, they’re really nice people.”
Mum: “What’s the record label called?

The most keenly anticipated band of the night were THE UNWINDING HOURS, playing their first ever gig. There were no nerves as they began with a faultless, stupendous airing of Knut (November’s free MAP download) and three other songs of epic proportions, with some bone-shuddering bass noises.

LORD CUT-GLASS were next on stage featuring a couple of members of Zoey Van Goey to beef up the sound for an endearing folky set.

They were followed by AIDAN MOFFATBILL WELLS, on drums and keys respectively. The four songs they played bode well for any future collaborative album release.

The penultimate act was EMMA POLLOCK, who belted out a few new tunes with some record label reminiscing in between.

THE PHANTOM BAND didn’t disappoint as the closing act, nailing it with a powerful performance to round off a fine night of Scottish pop.

RODDY HART (City Halls Recital Room, January 22) gave a typically rousing display in a stripped-back show with his band The Lonesome Fire. His self-deprecating humour was the perfect foil for his approach to discussing his “pop” album, Sign Language, which seemed almost apologetic.

Hart had the sell-out crowd hanging on his every word, though, at no more poignant a moment than when he played a rare solo rendition of Journey’s End on the piano, which he wrote for a former bandmate who tragically died of cancer in his 20s.

It was immediately obvious THE SWELL SEASON (City Halls Grand Hall, January 16) gig was going to be a cosy affair when Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova started the set kneeling down at a small keyboard, cooing into the same microphone on Fallen From The Sky. An evening of tales about falling in and out of love sung by a former couple who won an Oscar together couldn’t make for anything other an intriguing prospect.

Even the backing musicians, made up of Hansard’s band The Frames, must have felt like they were spectators to the undeniable chemistry between the Irishman and his Czech companion. The intense, soulful style of Hansard combined with the delicate beauty of Irglova was fascinating. They took turns at singing and piano duties and played a range of songs from the film they starred in together, Once, their new album Strict Joy and The Frames’ back catalogue.

The end of the set brought a genuinely touching, stripped-down version of Falling Slowly, the 2008 Acadamy Award winner for best original song, proving that heartache really does lead to great music.

All photos © The Pop Cop

Lord Cut-Glass – Maybe


Roddy Hart –
No Feeling Like Today


The Swell Season –
Feeling The Pull


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