Paul Brady is your man when it comes to making Celtic connections, thanks to his varied career, the diversity of his songs and his choice of traditional material.
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Switching between instruments, eras and styles – from a bluesy take on Hank Williams’s You Win Again to accessible roots rock fare such as Nobody Knows – with not a blip in tone, he presided over this career overview with the self-assured elan of an old(ish) pro and an evergreen enthusiasm for the buzz of live performance.
Blue World, a personal protest written against the background of The Troubles, highlighted his ability to write a direct song about a complex situation, while Steel Claw showcased his affinity for documenting street life.
Moving to piano, he adopted a conversational style for Dancer In The Fire, like a more impassioned (and Irish) Randy Newman, while The Island was sheer heartfelt lyricism.
By the end of the set, he wasn’t the only voice in the room whooping in exultation, while respect was due to the bold punter who whistled fluently along to the sophisticated guitar melody of The World Is What You Make It.
Opening act Heidi Talbot launched her new album, Angels Without Wings, in the stellar company of its players, including husband John McCusker, Phil Cunningham, Boo Hewerdine and guest vocalists Julie Fowlis and Louis Abbott (of Admiral Fallow), producing a nicely judged blend of the sweet, sad, stately and sassy seasoned with entertaining spousal banter, sing-along sea shanties and the soulful sway of The New Cajun Waltz.