There’s only a very few performers that can hold an audience in the palm of their hands. There are even fewer who can do so in a venue with a 2,000+ audience such as the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, all by themselves, with a handful of guitars, harmonica and a didgeridoo.
One such artist is Scotland’s much loved troubadour, Dougie MacLean OBE.
Dougie’s set list is garnered from a career spanning over 40 years, mostly based in the tranquil setting of Highland Perthshire. This gives his songwriting a unique perspective on history, politics and storytelling often through the experiences of his own family.
Indeed the MacLean Machine (if you will) is all family (past and present), with Mrs MacLean managing and son and daughter heavily involved in all things creative and ancestors and grandchildren equally providing inspiration. The family ethos extends to the myriad of people who work and volunteer during the Perthshire Amber festival and translates to the concert setting.
Dougie doesn’t just perform his songs, he shares them with the audience. This may be through wee gems of anecdotes about the songs and life in general or though involving the audience in singing along.
In the setting of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the impact is particularly powerful, with the balcony singing solo to This Love Will Carry. Dougie accused the balcony of non-participation, providing the rest of the audience with acoustic goosebumps. Dougie is keen for the audience to keep to the beat and melody, with a fond protection of the songs.
Stories are an essential part of the evening. I will now have the image of a caravan blowing past the window as it is tossed in a virulent Atlantic Lewis storm while I listen to Feel So Near.
No Dougie MacLean concert is complete without a rendition his “wee homesick song”, Caledonia has become part of our common culture, and rightly so. I don’t know about the rest of the audience, but a wee tear always comes to my eye during Caledonia. It was just one highlight of a concert filled with highlights.
After the concert, Dougie shines as well. It’s a pleasure watching him interact with festival goers, chatting, signing CDs and having a ball.
Five stars without a doubt for this concert and if Mr MacLean is playing near you, I thoroughly recommend to you a great night out.