Celtic Connections 2006: Julie Fowlis/ Jenna Reid
Piping Centre, Glasgow, 19 January 2006
“HAPPY TO MEET and sorry to part” was the title of one of the tunes in Julie Fowlis’ set for Celtic Connections at the Piping Centre, and this could be said to be the general feeling of most of the audience at the end of the concert.
The near-capacity audience was treated to a programme showcasing the best of both the Shetland and Gaelic traditions with a varied programme of jig and reel sets and haunting Gaelic song.
Fiddler Jenna Reid from Shetland (see top picture) opened the evening, together with the diverse talents of Duncan Lyall on bass, Kevin Mackenzie on guitar and Jenna’s own sister Bethany on fiddle and piano. She opened with a set of jigs, beginning with ‘The 50th Fling’ and proceeding onto a set of tunes which Jenna gathered herself from the Summer Island in Sweden.
This was followed by an exquisite arrangement of ‘Hector the Hero’, with Kevin Mackenzie on a beautifully sympathetic accompaniment which truly allowed the melody to shine. Jenna is obviously a master of her art, and her passion for the tradition is clearly evident in the way in which she communicates with her audience.
Julie Fowlis, from Dingwall but with strong roots in the Uists, was accompanied by fiddler and bouzouki player John McCusker, Tim Edey on guitar and button box, and Ian Carr on guitar. They opened the second half with one of Julie’s best songs fom her debut album ‘Mar a tha mo chridhe’ – the beautiful spinning song “Òganaich Ur a rinn m’fhagail’.
She followed it up with the haunting strains of ‘Tha mo ghaol air àird a chuain’, accompanied by Tim Edey with a more embellished accompaniment on guitar than we are used to hearing. The highlight of this set was the little heard song ‘Mo Bheannachd do Bhailidh Ur’.
Julie is always keen to tell the story of the song to her audience, and it set the scene here for what will surely become one of her most popular songs. Julie was joined on stage for the last few sets by Glenuig piper Iain Macdonald, and the resulting party delivered some stomping sets of pipe tunes – Julie is of course not only a natural singer but also a whistler and piper of no inconsiderable talent.
This set was concluded by another of Julie’s favourite songs, ‘Biodh an deoch s làimh mo ruin’, and a great set of puirt a beul ( mouth music). For an encore, all the musicians from the evening came on stage and delivered a great finale of tunes after a lovely gentle vocal duet between Julie and Jenna, singing ‘Nuair a Ràinig mi’m Baile’.
The Piping Centre was the perfect setting for this little gem of a concert, tucked away beside some of the bigger gigs. Hopefully, this format will see a bigger stage in future years.
© Fiona MacKenzie, 2006