Kris Drever: Fuineray to Catterline and Herkja and Grosse Isle

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
27th Jan, 2023

At the resplendent Royal Concert Hall’s New Auditorium the evening was set for The Celtic Connections second week of line ups. It was to show a wonderful 3 act set of anciently and powerfully modern music making with vocals and melodies to die for.

Of the three first up was a band called Herkja (an Island) who are from Shetland at the tip of northern Scotland that holds great mysteries of life there. As a 4 piece ‘Herkja’ brought to life the stirring and potent sound of the traditional music so new and old, amazing to see and also brilliant.


It’s no use pondering the levels behind playing music like this, music to honour instruments and special play at work. With the delectable joy that comes from it pouring forth to a room enthralled. Emotional coverage when listened to made wholly open in the stories attitudes (of room, love and care) soft voices; endemic beautitude!

Grosse Isle were welcomed to a room in a good mood. The sentiments at play during their songs couldn’t have gone better, in a thing far beyond obstacles. So tastefully they welcomed us in return and in an accent scooped up into French. During the show we were reminded of the endless quality in music, formed and written that seemed to even rule the world, with Irish uilleen pipes doing just that in majestic beauty.

Grosse Isle

Welcome was then given to the long and far reaching strides from another relatively local hero who was top billed Kris Drever, his entourage for the evening included fiddle, accordion and keys and guitar. Drever’s words were his own; he switched between electric and acoustic guitar on his own terms while celebrating his and others wonderful play of proud and sultry beautiful vocals and guitar playing.

I heard the work masterful describing a musician working so well with learned confidence and relaxing presence. It felt open wide in everything from lyrics (that were true because of the truth behind them of really rather upsetting terms) the music itself describes its own sentiments almost as a creature whose historic world shimmer with strength, memory and evocation.

In his two decade experience as a prominent emergence from the Shetland folk scene, he recorded his debut album, called classical, ‘Black Water’ (already making sure of great truth to his story.) He draws on all of this to bring us his songs in an evening embarked.

His veritable style and very enjoyable protagonistic singing reached long into the night, with the sound and brain of tradition mixed with copious amounts of right on modern statements and a curling twisting of many bended notes. Through the breath of life these melodies have the strength of stones and the wit of giving yourself to your heart land. Given to shaping a frosty break free for a few hours of grasping melodies so as to hearken to the Celtic centre.

It doesn’t get better than this, music that holds the bar as high as could be, as whole as to sound and gifted voice to the freedom in their hearts.

Daniel Donnelly

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