Celtic Connections review: Daoiri Farrell with Lori Watson, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

This powerful yet thoughtfully considered performance from the award-winning Dublin singer and bouzouki player Daoiri Farrell delivered seasoned, often traditional repertoire, made fresh with passion, articulation and narrative power '“ as in The Creggan White Hare, where mercy was shown to the hunted, or Valley of Knockanure, recounting a Black and Tan atrocity where there was none.
Daoirí FarrellDaoirí Farrell
Daoirí Farrell

Daoiri Farrell with Lori Watson, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****

His own bouzouki accompaniment to the supernatural yearning of The Unquiet Grave suggested he hardly had need of further augmentation, but his sidemen – uilleann piper Blackie O’Connell and bodhran player Robbie Welsh – brought an added exuberance to the show, with flowing slip jigs, an elaborate descriptive piece on the pipes from O’Connell and a dexterous bodhran break during the taut, controlled energy of Farrell’s Little Drummer.

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Opening the concert, Lori Watson during extracts from her intriguing Yarrow project, questioned how we use song to understand experience. In her case, the Border singer and fiddler, accompanied by Duncan Lyall on keyboards and guitarist Chas Mackenzie, sang her own, inventive yet considerate reinterpretations of songs about or inspired by the ballad-rich Yarrow Valley.

She opened with the incantatory Yarrow: A Charm, which narrowly avoided overwhelming by electronics, but went on to give fine, poised accounts of Hamish Henderson’s life-affirming Flytin o Life and Daith, the plaintive reproach of Fause, Fause Hae Ye Been and the plangent vocal swoop of October Song – every song with a story to tell.