CELTIC Connections habitually gives equal weight to both words in its name and new nine-piece NeXo, opening for Moving Hearts, demonstrated those musical connections in action, bringing together musicians from Scotland, Wales, Galicia, Argentina and Uruguay in a dynamic fusion of traditions which sounded footloose and free-flowing.
Moving Hearts | Rating: **** | Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow
Moving Hearts helped write the rulebook on progressive folk fusion back in the 1980s but even though audiences are more acclimatized to such devil-may-care criss-crossing of musical boundaries these days, this veteran Irish supergroup, reunited since 2007, remain a vibrant force, approaching their set more like keen pups than the elder statesmen they are.
They must truly have been ahead of the curve in their first flush, as even the smooth jazz alto saxophone breaks from Keith Donald couldn’t really date the music. In fact, singer/guitarist Mick Hanly chose to update, slightly amending their version of Dan Penn’s soul classic Dark End of the Street to reflect the passing of Ireland’s marriage equality act.
The songs felt like a bonus add-on, such was the propulsive flow of an increasingly energised set. Founder member Donal Lunny still helms the ship on bouzouki, while the young upstart Davy Spillane provided much of the melodic decoration on uillean pipes and low whistle, with further expert embellishment on fiddle from special guest Aidan O’Rourke. The audience listened, learned and danced, happy to hitch a ride alongside these committed trailblazers.