Laura Veirs, and Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo

Celtic Connections 2012 review

published: Tue 7th Feb 2012

Thursday 19th January to Sunday 5th February 2012
various venues, Glasgow, Scotland, Scotland MAP
various - from FREE to around £30
daily capacity: 25000
last updated: Mon 9th Dec 2013

Celtic Connections is Glasgow's annual folk and world music festival, and amongst the 2,100 musicians billed to play the festival The Arches play host to Laura Veirs, supported by Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo (Anna Jenkins, Jo Silverston and Gill Sandell).

Barker hails from Western Australia, and brings a quiet sense of warmth and charm as she greets the awaiting crowd. The atmosphere is relaxed as Barker's exquisite tone fills the brick archways of the venue, while Jenkins, Silverston and Sandell provide warming harmonies. Respectively they accompany Barker on violin, cello, flute and accordion giving musical depth to the melodies. 'Billowing Sea' is inviting, full of intertwining melodies and Barker's distinct vocals. She has a voice which translates excellently in live performance – sounding in many parts better than her recordings. Although relatively unknown in the UK, 'Nostalgia' is introduced as the theme for hit show Wallander, and a sense of familiarity washes over the growing crowd as the award-winning tune plays out. And the TV vibe of the evening carries on with 'Pause': used as the Shadow Line theme. Barker and band's performance is without fault, setting the tone for Laura Veirs.

The Arches have filled nicely by the time Veirs takes to the stage – quirky and instantly likeable as she greets the crowd enthusiastically. The Colorado born singer-songwriter is joined by Tim Young on guitar and Alex Guy on keyboards and violin/viola, and there's a real camaraderie between the trio from the moment they appear together. Veirs even pays a tribute to tour manager Tim Matthews, giving an evocative image of the four driving around the UK on their miniature whistle-stop tour. This idea is further developed when they do an unusual cover of Henry Purcell's 'Tis Too Late For A Coach' – prompted by Matthews apparent on the road teachings – before they give it a modern twist. Veirs gives folk music an eccentric edge, and having recently released an album of folk music for children, she plays the Harry Belafonte track 'Jump Down Spin Around' – expertly acapella and with strong support vocally from Young and Guy. It’s the unusual touches to the performance which keeps the evening alive, such as Young’s rendition of 'Song of Songs' showing how attuned they are to each other as Veirs and Guy take his lead through his improvisations.

As well as the excellent cover versions, Veirs plays the lilting 'Sun Is King' from her 2009 album July Flame – the perfect antidote to a cold Glasgow evening – while 'Carol Kaye' (a tribute to the legendary bassist) is bubbly without being saccharine-sweet. And this is the crux of why Veirs charms the audience so excellently. Her voice is pure, perfectly pitched for her striking melodies yet her performance remains fresh due to vibrant personality and her clear enjoyment of music. With acts like these, it's clear why folk music is the hot genre of the moment.
review by: Clare Sinclair

Thursday 19th January to Sunday 5th February 2012
various venues, Glasgow, Scotland, Scotland MAP
various - from FREE to around £30
daily capacity: 25000
last updated: Mon 9th Dec 2013


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