MacPhail: Celtic Connections got off to a great start

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The first weekend of Celtic Connections got off to a great start and I managed to attend concerts consecutively on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The following is an overview of each event.

Tiree: A Toast to 10 Years of Tiree Music Festival.

This gig attracted a standing crowd of more than 1,500 to the Fruitmarket in Glasgow’s Merchant City area. The size of the gig, the calibre of the bands and the lively capacity crowd reflected the extent to which TMF punches above its weight as a small festival on a remote island with a population of only around 700.

A highlight of this night for me was playing a set of tunes alongside Gordon Connell, who joined a whole host of musicians from various bands on stage as the TMF All Stars.

Without Gordon’s influence on the music of Tiree, the festival would never have been conceived and it is excellent that Daniel, Stewart and the rest of the TMF team recognise this by always having him as an integral part of the fabric of the festival.

An amazing line-up for TMF 2019 was announced and tickets are already
well on the way to sell-out.

Allan Henderson – The Formative Playlist.

By a fairly large margin, this was the most enjoyable seated concert I’ve been at in many years.

The concept was unusual. A programme chosen at random from a shuffling playlist on a giant onstage MP3 player made up of tracks that had been influential in Allan’s early life. Once selected, the songs or tunes would be played by the on-stage line-up of top performers, but only after the track, the band and the reasons for inclusion would be given by Allan.

This man needs a radio or television career. Good as the music was, it was Allan’s informative and very witty and highly entertaining intros that were the highlight of the show.

I was riveted throughout both halves of Allan’s show and on the edge of my seat in anticipation for what band, track and introduction was coming next.

Carmicheal’s Ceilidh – The Life of a Legend.

As a mark of accordion legend John Carmicheal’s recently celebrated 80th birthday, this combination of chat show and concert was the perfect way to allow an audience of his fans to enjoy a fascinating and hilariously funny look back over his incredible career.

Hosted expertly by BBC Take the Floor’s Gary Innes, the first half was a Parkinson-style chat with John along with guests and fellow octogenarian musical legends Fergie MacDonald and Alasdair Gillies.

As with Allan’s concert, the chat and stories were fascinating and hilarious. The second half was a concert and the music was phenomenally good. The energy and charisma that John displayed is a clear indicator as to why he had such hugely successful performance career.

I think Gary Innes and Allan Henderson should approach the BBC to co-host a regular chat show with guests like this. I would never miss an episode!