Gig Review: Scots in the Spanish Civil War, Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow

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BASED on a recent Greentrax CD, and directed by Ian McCalman, the evening celebrated the courage and commitment of some 550 Scots who, in 1936, shrugged off their everyday lives and went to fight for the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War.

Scots in the Spanish Civil War

Mitchell theatre Glasgow


A reflection of how that sacrifice 76 years ago still resonates today, the concert was a sell-out.

As singers alternated with narrators Iain Anderson and Daniel Gray, there may have been some rough edges musically, with little scope or demand for subtlety as Paul Sheridan, with the Wakes, opened with angry passion, the Scots-Spanish group Gallo Rojo declaimed their No Pasaran! over a searing electric guitar lick, and Arthur Johnstone delivered Jarama Valley with its defiantly rollicking chorus in remembrance of a grim

More reflective interludes, however, included Christine Kydd’s gently pitched Si Me Quieres Escribir and Frank and Fiona Rae’s Hasta Luego, while other contemporary responses included Robin Laing’s Picasso Paints Guernica, sung by George Archibald with Brian Miller and Charlie Milne, and the clarion harmonies of Viva los Brigadistas from Alison McMorland and Geordie McIntyre.

Perhaps most moving was the German trio Liederjan’s Moor Soldaten – “The Peatbog Soldiers”, which emerged from Nazi labour camps to be taken up as a marching song by those German Brigaders who knew they could never go home.

Lusty choruses of The Internationale (led by Arthur Johnstone in the absence of the flu-smitten Dick Gaughan), and the concluding Bandiera Rossa, set an appropriate seal on the evening.