If you were looking for a night of quiet, soulful music then the 02 ABC was not the place to be on Sunday night. However if you were looking for rousing music delivered with raw passion and enormous talent then Tiree Outside The Box was the gig for you.
This is the night when the west coast island of Tiree showcased some of its homegrown talent at its best. Four groups with their roots firmly planted on Tiree rocked this venue to its foundations.
First up on the night was ‘Trail West’. This young band rounded off a tremendous year for them with a terrific set that whet the appetite for the rest of the evening. Starting with their track, Scattermaster the enthusiastic crowd were soon in raptures as the fusion of bagpipes, guitar, accordion and drums, created a sound that had passion and verve. Right from the opening notes of Scattermaster to the final notes of ‘The Sound of Mull’ and the songs and tunes in between, the crowds appreciation of the music showed just why Trail West were recently voted Scottish Ceilidh band of the Year at the traditional music awards.
Following on from them were seasoned pro’s ‘Gunna Sound Ceilidh Band’. Taking to the stage as a 6 piece band led by stalwarts Johnny Scoular and Campbell Brown, they took over where the young pretenders left off. With the audience still in a frenzy, this band blasted out some of their favourites like never before. Starting their evening with a Gay Gordons set, everyone had the urge to start dancing but as this arena was packed out they had to settle for jumping up and down. Singing songs such as ‘Rollin on the Sea’, Gunna Sound Ceilidh Band and many more they had this audience singing and dancing along them.
Next up in this thoroughly entertaining evening were ‘Skipinnish’. Although this band has been around the longest, they have the newest line-up. With lead vocals now from Scotland’s up and coming musician of the year, Robert Robertson, Archie McAllister on fiddle and Ross Wilson on piano, there was a refreshing new vibrant sound to this seasoned band. As they took to the stage with not one, not two but three pipers, you knew this was going to be another roof-raising session and you were not disappointed. This was another tremendous set that had the audience clambering for more. Angus MacPhail, founder member of Skipinnish made a moving tribute to Robert Beck who taught many of the musicians on stage tonight, and who sadly passed away in December.
Headlining this outstanding concert were ‘Skerryvore’. From the instant the strains of ‘Gairm a’chuain’ could be heard eliciting from the stage a cacophony of noise erupted from the crowd in anticipation of these masters in Celtic rock. Whilst Tiree is where the Gillespie brothers hail from, the 02 ABC has become their spiritual home and when you are at home you tend to up the ante somewhat. Having seen this band many times, they were on scintillating form tonight and gave their fans just what they were looking for. On approaching the venue this evening there were three fire engines just down from it. I at first thought these guys had brought the roof down during sound checks, such is the volume of their superb music. This was not the case fortunately and they treated the audience to some old and new tunes. They were swaying to ‘Home to Donegal’, jumping and rocking to brand new tunes and when Alec Dalglish sang ‘Put Your Hands Up’ the crowd duly obliged. Skerryvore know how to entertain large crowd and get them involved, which they certainly did in this gig.
Thinking when Skerryvore left the stage to a rapturous applause that it couldn’t be bettered would be wrong. A grand finale still awaited this packed audience whereby all musicians took to stage for a performance that would not be forgotten for a long time. With 11 accordions, 4 sets of bagpipes, fiddles, guitars and drums there was a finale like no other.
This memorable evening, which was compered by Mary Ann Kennedy, was organised by Daniel Gillespie in honour of Gordon Connell who had taught many of the artists on show tonight and the great man rightfully took his place on centre stage for the finale surrounded by some of the latest talent to come out of Tiree. This was a very well organised event and whilst Skerryvore were the undoubted headliners they nobley let the younger talent take the lead in this finale as they faded into the background. Utmost kudos all round!
Danny Matheson (Celtic Music Radio Presenter)