Celtic Connections review: Adam Sutherland Band, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

As for many in the Celtic Connections extended family, it's been a busy festival for fiddler-about-town Adam Sutherland, already familiar from the line-ups of Croft No.5, Session A9 and the Treacherous Orchestra among other fine folk ensembles. It was a pleasure to finally see him fronting his own mixed acoustic-electric outfit at the launch of his new album, Some Other Land.
Adam Sutherland PIC: Jane BarlowAdam Sutherland PIC: Jane Barlow
Adam Sutherland PIC: Jane Barlow

Adam Sutherland Band, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****

Sutherland performs with such warm, impish personality that it was no great task to soften the rather formal edges of the New Auditorium with his trademark melodic touch, fluid transitions between tempos, gift for groove and love of 7/8 time signatures, appealingly matched here with soulful keyboards, borrowings from Indian classical music and middle eastern influences.

There were additional rock, pop and jazz inflections from the electric rhythm section, with Steve Forman’s percussion occasionally sacrificed to their amplification, and great chemistry with his Treacherous buddy John Somerville on accordion.

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The personal commissions and dedications flowed, from the suitably romantic Emma’s Waltz to a fragrant tune for his grandmother, via the Angus R. Grant-inspired The Wizard and the beautiful, melancholic Tune for Hayley, en route to a encore featuring the effusive dual fiddles of Sutherland and opening act Sarah-Jane Summers.

Fresh from her New Voices commission, Summers’ dexterous support set with Finnish guitarist Juhani Silvola encompassed percussive picking and tapping, the Stephane Grappelli-like mischief of Widdershins and a gorgeous gypsy lament, building in urgency and discord, like a cry from a troubled soul.