The final night of Celtic Connections and have they saved the best till last?
Hamish Hawk opens the show with a stripped back set, just him and a guitar; a gentle polite set with plenty of audience interaction.
The lack of accompaniment exposes the quality of his singing and songwriting to all and it goes down well with a packed Saint Lukes audience.
Hawk engages the throng with his personality and his captivating storytelling and excellent musicianship.
He also announced the launch of a new album and closes the set with the proposed title track ‘Zero To One’.
Where do we find out more info, well as he says, “I’ve got a highly Googlable name, and I didn’t even have to pay for it”.
The main and final event of this year’s Celtic Connections is the fabulous Out Lines.
Following the release of Conflats, considered by many as one of the albums of last year this live performance was eagerly awaited.
Something seems truly fitting that the venue for this event is a former church, possibly the fact that a church is a traditional meeting place for the populous and the whole Conflats project is the expression of the views of the residents of Easterhouse who engaged with the Platform project.
Anyway, the sermon according to James Graham gets off to an inauspicious start with massive feedback from his mike, sorted by a swift shift of position, but what follows thereafter is an extraordinary articulation of the Conflats album/project.
Witnessing the use of a harmonium for the first time, who was to know that it required such physicality to operate.
The performance seems to have added intensity to that of the album and during the performance of ‘There is A Saved Place’ Graham really seems to be in the zone and lost in the music.
An exceptional performance of the album ensues with Kathryn Joseph moving from harmonium to keys and back with Marcus Mackay content to remain in the background, but with his percussion holding it all together.
The audience had been anticipating an ABBA cover, which has been de rigueur, but I guess paying homage to one another we are treated to a cover of Joseph’s ‘The What Why, Baby’ with Graham on the main vocals and The Twilight Sad’s ‘It Was Never the Same’ with Joseph on the main vocals.
This all works so well and the rendition of ABBA’s ‘Lay Your Love on Me’ seems to take it to a whole new (better) place.
This is truly something not to be missed with Graham stating that “this Is the best thing I have ever done working with these two,” too right!
As expected a bleak, stark and gritty performance packed with emotion, darkness and wondrous vocals.
Although they speak of returning to their day jobs there still seems to be further opportunity to catch Out Lines.
Seek them out because, for sure, you will not be disappointed.
Words/Photos: Derek McCutcheon