Presumably this Year’s Celtic Connections is the most successful yet, but a gig on a Sunday afternoon is what it’s all that about.
Hazy Recollections showcases short sets from a number of artists back to back (with no discernible interval) in a chilled out, generally all seated, environment.
From a personal point of view a rare appearance from Jacob Yates and The Pearly Gate Lockpickers and a headlining set from Emme Woods could not be missed.
Opening proceedings Rhona MacFarlane takes to the stage with a three-piece string section, a folk/pop crossover from this talented singer-songwriter, whose intimate and personal songs go down well with what appears to be a pretty diverse audience.
Although the setup sounds just right MacFarlane expresses her hope for “maybe one day with a full orchestra”.
No sooner had MacFarlane et al left the stage when a three piece Jacob Yates and The Pearly Gate Lockpickers take the stage.
Jacob Lovatt is only accompanied by an acoustic guitar and keys, but that is of little consequence as from the opening bars of ‘Dundee’ you realise that the vocals of Lovatt can all but fill the room themselves.
Introduced as makers of “doomwop” the stripped back nature of this set demonstrate the storytelling ability of Lovatt’s songwriting underpinned by the emotion he puts in to his performance.
A couple of oldies, a couple of new songs, an announcement of a new album, a more gentle love song without the usual darkness and a couple from the latest album, Goths!!!.
Closing with a powerful rendition of ‘The Gospel According to The Selfish Gene’ and that is it; if we can only hold out now until the new music.
Age-Otori is up next and warns us straight away about their potential for inappropriate comments; scaremongering me thinks!
Age-Otori performs solo with a keyboard and sings of personal experiences with anecdotes and stories in between; mum was obviously in the audience and helps out with the forgotten first lyrics to ‘Honey’.
A mix of fun, but with real emotion in some of the more personal songs such as ‘Pulse’ about the 49 people killed in the Pulse nightclub Orlando, or ‘Jo-Anne’ (about a stripper) whose “not what I’d like to be” and ‘Alaska’ – lets go to Alaska and escape everyone’s stupid ideal.
An emotional performance with Age-Otori attempting to make light of the performance, but cannot hide the personal nature of their songwriting.
Announced as the mystery guest Siobhan Wilson replaces Age-Otori and performs a masterclass touching on her back catalogue.
A beautiful voice with the minimal of guitar accompaniment, as that is all that is required.
Her set includes songs off the new album, There Are No Saints, and some oldies including ‘All Dressed Up’ with some lyrics changed “to make it more evil”.
Wilson finishes with ‘Dear God’ from the new album before making way for Emme Woods.
Emme Woods is one of the hottest properties in Glasgow at the moment and this appearance has the full band line up including Kitty on the keys.
Arguably the strongest of their flexible line ups, but for Barrie-James O’Neill who makes the occasional appearance.
There was a time when Celtic Connections would have been the natural habitat for Woods when her music was more influenced by alt folk, but that is no longer the case.
With the full band set up the afternoon’s rock (and sassiness) levels are stepped up a gear.
2018 is likely to be a big year for Woods with plans for a new EP and the announcement of an appearance at the SXSW.
With the recording of the new EP currently underway we were treated to a new song and the likely title track ‘It’s Ma Party’ as well as old favourites ‘Mother Doesn’t Love You’ and ‘I Was Running’.
A brilliant bluesy rock performance where Woods’ vocals are the focus, our very own Janis Joplin.
Apparently they had missed the soundcheck due to road closures coming from the recording studio, however this is a faultless performance (as usual).
Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon