Gig review: Crows Bones / Ben Church St Andrew’s In The Square, Glasgow

Commissioned by Opera North Projects and devised by Lau accordionist Martin Green, Crows’ Bones explored and indulged the age-old human fascination with the supernatural, in deliciously eerie arrangements of ghostly-themed songs both ancient and modern.

Crows Bones / Ben Church

St Andrew’s In The Square, Glasgow

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Also featuring vocalists Inge Thomson and Becky Unthank, with Niklas Roswall on nyckelharpa, the Swedish keyed fiddle, the show deployed its sparse components with huge imagination and skill, often sounding as if it were indeed channelling spirits and energies from another dimension.

Thomson and Unthanks’ voices are both distinctively otherworldly in themselves, their uncanny potency here heightened yet further by a wealth of unexpected melodic and harmonic configurations, while Green and Roswall’s instrumental contributions ranged from delicately disquieting atmospherics to nigh-on orchestral-scale ominous grandeur.

Suitably low, moody lighting and a few evocative props also intensified the show’s spectral charm, as the songs’ narratives unfolded tales of betrayal, revenge and love beyond the grave, although a film sequence interposed nearly two-thirds through, set to a largely abstract soundscape, rather stalled the momentum.

Support came from the young Manchester-born singer and guitarist Ben Church, winner 
of a Danny Kyle Open Stage Award at Celtic Connections last year, and confirming that promise with a beguiling set of traditional and contemporary material.