Scotland Sings Nanci Griffith

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall,
Celtic Connections
January, 2022

I stepped with untold wonder and as if back in time into the fabulous Glasgow City Halls main auditorium. We were greeted so well with the internationally familiar set with the hazy words ‘Celtic Connections’ lit up in its coloured light. Already the sight and occasion brought about a great mood in the audience that seemed to air, stir and grow as the evening’s music progressed.

This, for me, was the beginning of the Celtic Connections 2022 Glasgow festival, so the music reflected its 28th year on the world stage. And then of course as the artists took their places behind music stands and microphones; Nanci Griffith was about to see her songs brought to life by amazing Scottish folk & Country singers from their own Scottish musical roots. 

With no ado ‘The Road to Aberdeen’ began; the 5 vocalist of the show shared lines and sang in harmony kicking off with great vibrancy. The drone sound was the first note of the night always so effective in creating that very specific sound to base the song on. The Road to Aberdeen was a song written about travelling and yet always being at home (at least at heart). Brought to the world in 1998 it was performed as powerfully tonight as it had been when it was recorded. 

Nanci Griffith the Country singer from Texas played a big role in American Country and Western styles and developments made during her career saw her work with so many names of people she had collaborated with in some musical way. In the spirit of the evening short tales were told by our singers who were there as musicians as well as fervent fans.

Journeying with her music was almost an enlightening thing and the skill on show in the homage reached every corner of the hall striving as it should for the best and most capable performance. (Through the course of it the artistry of each singer’s song rose beyond all occasions). The stage was so alive with almost royally powerful thought that went into every detail of this epic show.

The levels of gratitude for everything went into the concert as it streamed into souring high times and there was a real feel of that. And at other times the music couldn’t be described as anything but beautiful. So stringently, forwardly Scottish a performance as the wooden floor itself joined in the dance. There were so many performers on stage, in a close band as it swept on.

Nanci’s lyrics read like poems as the songs each took their turns with her brilliance it was as if she was behind every bit of it. She is known for so many things personality, courage, performance, writing, often striving for a middle ground using her creativity to form what she meant to do. No question as to the meaningful reasons she is revered and loved, she and her great work have been described as genius.

And with that same passion the stories poured out with that creative genius. There was even an untold happiness from the band; that swapped instruments and led the way; in every way keeping the timely rhythms and so rightly and highly complimenting the singers in the emotions of the songs. Each gave differently but the strength came through better because of it, each one stealing the show.

To name but a few; Kirsten Adamson, Karen Matheson, Jill Jackson, James Grant were there, who if you know them well you could imagine just what commanding styles that they put in place for the concert right at the heart of Nanci’s own. The highland born Megan Henderson did her utmost to be sparkling and real. 

Appreciation was high and filled the large, spectacular room whose ceilings raise the volume to the heights. All on high, all having a wonderful time playing the music they love and that has the strong roots of the Celtic Connections at its heart. We may thank the efforts of everyone that made its masterful return to the famous festival.  

Daniel Donnelly