Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow, Wednesday 21st January 2015
In the Wake of Neil Gunn is a remarkable piece of work from Mike Vass, inspired by his voyage following Neil Gunn’s 1937 sailing trip around Scotland.
Mike read the book while convalescing and decided to follow Neil’s route on his own craft.
When picturing a boat trip, I guess the view is of calm seas, fluffy clouds and a bright blue sky. A serene and relaxing pastime, if you will.
Mike music certainly offers this mistaken vision.
Sphere Music conjures up a dream of calm sailing at a gentle speed, with the sounds of the sea and the boat. Sound effects such as the Shipping Forecast and echo sound of the radar are added to authenticate the view.
But then, the weather changes….
Fused Dark reminds us of the ferocious conditions, the swirling of the wind around the boat. Rain is present in the sound of the glockenspiel. The building wind is painted beautifully by the string quartet, as the radio warns of gale.
As diverse as the music is, so is the arrangement.
On stage tonight with Mike is the Cairn String Quartet, Euan Burton (on electric and double bass), Innes Watson (on guitar), Jennifer Port (on oboe and glockenspiel), Hamish Napier (on keys, whistles and flutes), and that old traditional favourite, the Apple Mac!
We were also treated to pictures of the journey and a film to go with Heave & Roll, produced by Edinburgh’s Salmon Films.
Blue Fields of Paradise invokes unorganised waves and rain. Not quite the perfect storm, but an image of a calm sea with the morning mist burning away to uncover inclement weather ahead.
A word should also be said for the oboe. Throughout the evening, it called us out to sea and hypnotised us in The Lock Keeper as it sent out a tuneful morse code signal to anyone listening.
The sea calls us. It is in our very soul, enshrined in our genes. The very way music is.
Mike has combined the power of the sea and the power of music in an entrancing way.
Thoroughly recommend the CD and, if opportunity allows, go see it live!
Presenter, Celtic Music Radio