The traditional finale of the wonderful Celtic Connections Festival is the all star Transatlantic Session. A capacity audience were enthralled with over two and a half hours of music that ranged from spine chilling to heart thumping. This was a quite outstanding array of musical talent rarely seen on a stage at the same time.
From the opening track led by musical directors Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas until the final notes of the band during the encore it was wall to wall entertainment. There was so many wonderful musicians on the stage it’s not possible to list them all instead I shall concentrate on some of the highlights, of which there were many. A newcomer to the Transatlantic sessions was Joe Newberry from West Virginia who took to the stage resplendent in Stetson hat and banjo giving a splendid version of Waiting On the Federals. Karen Matheson was next to take centre stage giving a rendition of a traditional gaelic song followed by a beautiful version of the Burns classic Ca’ The Yowes.
As usual the banter between Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain had the audience in fits of laughter as they introduced the next set of tunes which included Hector the Hero and three different reels. To hear these tunes played in the traditional manner accompanied with Jerry Douglas’s dobro was breathtaking. Soon after the rapturous applause had died down you could hear a pin drop in he auditorium as Cara Dillon gave a spine chilling version of The Winding River Roe. Rhiannan Giddens brought the curtain down on a pulsating first half with a very powerful voice and promised even better in the second half. She was not wrong in that comment as the second half was better still.
Karen Matheson got the crowd going again with some fantastic ‘mouth music’ before The Milk Carton Kids took to the stage for a couple of songs. If the music ever dries up for this American duo they could quite easily take to the stage as stand up comedians. With superb harmonies akin to The Everley Brothers this duo create a wonderful sound and are absolutely hilarious in their banter in between tracks. Joe Newberry gave a rendition of The Cherry River Line before handing over once more to the extremely talented Rhiannan Giddens. Among the songs she sang was a song that as she said did not need any introduction She’s Got You which was sublime.
The encore was a very different version of David Bowie’s hit It Aint Easy which was a very fitting tribute to one wonderful musician from so many other fantastic musicians. There are too many people to mention but special thanks must go Donald Shaw and John McCusker who wrote a lot of the material for this show.
This show is a wonderful mix of Scottish, Irish and American music and as their tour continues a must see concert if it comes anywhere near you.
Celtic Music Radio