Celtic Connections 2011: Pick of the Pops…

Last night saw the opening of this years Celtic Connections, a music festival (and more) that just gets bigger and wider in scope. This is my guide to the best of a very good line-up. You may say that I have already done this when the original line-up was announced, and you’d be correct (see Get Yourself Connected…) but since that time other names have been added and more details about bands and sets finalised. For example The Waterboys are performing An Appointment with Mr Yeats, taking the poetry of William Butler Yeats and setting it to music. It should be a special night, and this is a relationship that dates back to The Fisherman’s Blues album when the band adapted Yeats’ The Stolen Child. That song was my introduction to modernist poetry and subsequently a greater understanding of the world, people and art. It still send shivers through me. This is that track:
They’re playing at The Royal Concert Hall on the 30th January and there is also the promise of new versions of old favourites.
There is so much on offer at Celtic Connections that it would empty Fred Goodwin’s wallet to attempt to see all the best things on offer. That’s why, for value for money, it is always worth going to at least one of the collaborative evenings on offer. The most promising of these is A Night of Celtronika which will be held at the Old Fruitmarket on Friday the 28th Jan. The line-up includes Future Pilot Aka, PJ Moore (of Blue Nile fame), Hidden Orchestra, Future Trad Collective, Strange Rainbow and The Pastels. All electronically lovely, but the most exciting aspect for me will be new commissions by the great Craig Armstrong. From his album The Space Between Us (and every home should have one) this is his adaptation of The Blue Nile’s Let’s Go Out Tonight, complete with Paul Buchanan on vocals:

But the gig of the festival, and this will be of no surprise to regular readers, will be John Grant at St Andrew’s in the Square. He made the album of the year last year (Queen of Denmark) and this is a chance to hear that voice that breaks your heart. A funny man too. Here is one of his best songs, with a great video. This is I Wanna Go to Marz:

Eagle-eyed readers will note that The Waterboys and John Grant are on at the same time on the same night. It is close to being a toss up, but at the moment John just beats Mike, with the hope that The Waterboys return soon. There are many other things to tickle all fancies, so for a full peruse go to celticconnections and pick your own faves. I hope that Celtic Connections continues to grow as it lightens up the dullest January.

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