Celtic Connections 2021: Elephant Sessions – A Lockdown Special

Ironworks, Inverness
30th Jan, 2021


The intro to this evening’s musical offering was the 1977 hit from the Spanish act Baccara ‘Yes Sir I can Boogie’. A lively disco number which set the scene nicely for tonight’s concert entitled Elephant Sessions. The gig was recorded at the Ironworks Venue in Inverness and felt like a ‘you had to be there’ event. A violin played its dramatic tones as we were led in to the venue by film, on and into the room for tonight’s no vocal performance.

The Elephants were at first in the dark then dimly lit by green light giving viewers the pleasurable feeling of being there with them. This young act of merry making music commenced with a single violin (Euan) plucking a traditional melody which then loudened as we were introduced to the music that soon became a fusion of traditional and experimental. It was giddy with their talent and with their first gig like that in too long a time.
By the end of their first song the spotlight had hit the stage that was surrounded by neon light. This band are very well liked and critically acclaimed. With their second song they called ‘Wet Field Day’ the thumping of the drum came to fore. It was an amalgamation of styles that they played, from jazzy base to really booming the music from the drums.

Their mastery was obvious and each variety of song passed by with a genuine feeling of satisfaction that poured out of them in the dim images on the screen. They were able to create all sorts of rhymes and speeds with a most effortless interaction especially for them being such a young act, but very well experienced, for live and recorded music and for indulging in the sweeping act of folk, funk and electronic music.
Their coverage of themes is very well known now and very popular. Never missing a trick and including their seductive talent for traditional and synthesiser going together while calling a song; Loft Crofter and keeping a disco speed that the violin was happily involved with. Their songs; ‘Tiagarra’ which is a Museum in Australia, ‘Doofer’ where you can’t think of a name, just showed the trajectory the Elephants are able to work with and master a great amount of work.

For ‘Doofer’ they had a heavy overdrive on the guitar, which along with the thumping drum had a kind of ecstatic effect that blew you away and while that was happening you were reminded that another sound was the violin or the mandolin. The 6 or 7 performances were the same set up throughout though they swapped instruments. including the synth in an amazing movement of pace and changing repetitive note changes and energy changes making an event of stories old and new.

It was the first I had seen in this year’s connections where the band were on their own. And it felt like a slightly different dynamic because of the type of venue all the way up in Inverness, a night club venue no doubt. But it was the sheer energy that sprung from them and the tightness of this very well-oiled act. A kind of positivity without having to think about it, and a great desire to entertain us make us dance and have a great time. One of the most together acts out there.

Daniel Donnelly

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