Sian with Michael McGoldrick Quintet and Leyla McCalla


Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Celtic Connections
5th Febuary, 2022


The Sian and Michael McGoldrick evening was very well fitted at the New Auditorium space at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. It would be an evening of collaboration brought about for the Connections. Michael and Sian are well known Scottish musicians so the Gaelic celebration carried on in these cold days.

Leyla McCalla took to the stage and began her soulfully endearing set of self composed music chosen to cast the evening away. Her talents include singing and Cello among other things and her style showed itself with influences of all kinds. We could but delight in its firm tempos and rigid castings, something liken of nature itself and even putting wisdom to sound! We found her so beyond in her graces that outperformed her actual youthful age as she brought her whole self to the stage.

When the quintet got to the gig it was to reiterate the stories and songs traditionally carried by the music at hand. The triumphantly Scottish sounding qualities had been vitalised by the inspired choice of support act. So we were again treated to the resplendent and always with a good sense of reality of a show to play with. The deep sense of this music resounds with flute and pipe instrument’s that had the room reverberating and gave connections that whistled along in styles, giving out the strength in the vibrant importance of Traditional Scottish music that implores its roots.

The ensemble had musicians brought together for a very tightly played and loosely given return to the stage. Selected were a group who so flexibly played as if they had been together for years. And the placement of songs that came from the McGoldrick ensemble levelled the evening in the inheritance to the yearly Connections.

So melodic was this music; that has been part of the Scottish and Gaelic music scene forever, capable to just enthral our happy ears to listen and also enjoy the rich sight in front of us. The quintet’s unfailing sound has been described as in likeness to Crosby, Stills and Nash but they had their own musical feet to plant. And again each of the group onstage shared many years of playing live behind them as they grow in stature. Well known for their flute based and whistle based songs written to the heights of its craft.

This music offered a many facetted host of connections between modern and traditional but the magic through the ages has lost none of its appeal and relevance for the Gaelic side of Scottish heritage. And it is in evenings like this, brought about by the Celtic Connections that we can really value in their advances on the world stage.

And with that enhanced revelry the music remained beautiful and still very sound. For though the themes tell of long remembered heart ache of the land, the spirit itself is high and welcoming. In their self titled album brought out in 2020, produced by the well known Donald Shaw, the power and prestige offers a kind of listening that is full of every wonderful and awakening aspect of this music.

What a great vehicle music is from these artists point of worldwide view, and how well that music endows all of its expression’s! All of which includes enjoyment in their musical universality and tendencies in its appeals, with its greatly varied original tracks.

It was another ever so relaxed atmosphere that was great about the occasion and of the mood of the festival itself. The organisation seems to go without a hitch as when the musicians take to stage in confidence with the kind of bonding that travels the room immediately. It is very much a pleasure to be part of, assured as we were of quality, the talented tales expressed in music by ever so experienced artists.

It makes of January a different experience, as it flows from show to show. And the music holds a light to its roots with a plentiful display always straight from the heart. The evenings act was an exploration and experiment of the sound driving every thought through with extended flute to harry the story with beauty and a great identity.

The warmth, welcoming and intimate revelation on show was lapped up and dearly held by the audience in a timeless tract that offered time out from the weather outside. The sense of well-being carried through the room from start to finish. And we were all again left with great thought and great times at heart. This is no exaggeration get on down to a Connection gig and you’ll see just what I mean.

Daniel Donnelly

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