Music Review: Blazin’ Fiddles with Emily Smith, Queen’s Hall (Venue 72), Edinburgh

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Having celebrated their 20th anniversary last year, the catgut and horsehair extravaganza that is Blazin’ Fiddles just keep on partying, and fairly kicking up the dust with it.

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Seasoned musicians all, with the fiddle quartet of founder Bruce MacGregor, Jenna Reid, Kirstan Harvey and Ruaridh MacMillan backed by Angus Lyon on keyboard and guitarist Anna Massie, it doesn’t take long for them to get into their formidable stride, deploying full pelt jigs and reels as if there were no tomorrow.

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These tend to be the crowd-pleasers, but there were some other, less frenetic delights amid the fireworks – McGregor’s lissom Annie’s Waltz, for instance which he and Reid wrapped in some lovely fiddle harmonies, or Reid’s composition McFall’s March, more of a gentle dander than a march, with a graceful guitar intro from Massie; then there was a set that opened with the perky Violet Tulloch’s Hornpipe, with its distinctive Shetland ring, and, switching islands, ended with a jubilant Harris Dance.

Their guest for this current tour, the award-winning Dumfriesshire singer Emily Smith, slipped deftly into the band’s ranks for several numbers, accompanying herself on accordion for brisk renditions of Braw Lads o Gala Water and the Twa Sisters – although, so far as balladry is concerned I wished she’d deliver just one song a cappella, for she is a singer of great poise and clarity.

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As it was, she shone in lovely renditions of Archie Fisher’s The Final Trawl, Richard Thompson’s Waltzing for Dreamers and the lingering traditional leave-taking of The Parting Glass, before the Blazers cranked up the action once again, bidding us farewell and threatening to vanish into reel-time hyperspace.

Again on, 21 August 8pm

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