Gig review: MacDougall & Friends, Glasgow

Last night’s early evening concert was a relaxed affair. The title itself – Jamie MacDougall and Friends – suggested as much. But it was the thread of folk music, and a manner of presentation to match it, that gave an air of congeniality to the hour-long programme.

MacDougall & Friends - Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow

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At the centre of things was MacDougall himself, a Scots tenor with a couthie charm, talking us through a musical journey that began in Mexico and Paraguay, and ended in Scotland by way of England and Wales. Helping him on his way were guitarist Matthew McAllister and harpist Sharron Griffiths. In various combinations, they coloured songs by Mexicans Francisco Pichardo and Manuel Ponce (his heartfelt Por ti mi Carazón the most compellingly delivered) with an elusive passion, as well as Paraguayan instrumental numbers by Augustin Barrios and Alfredo Ortiz.

English and Welsh folk song arrangements by Britten – accompanied respectively by guitar and harp – gave MacDougall plenty of opportunities to slip into appropriate character modes, and to force out their charm above Britten’s rather stylised accompaniments.

But the real treat of the evening was Eddie McGuire’s exquisite arrangements of songs by Robert Burns, one of them – Ae Fond Kiss, with its clever conversation of harmonics announcing the theme in the instrumental intro, and the unforced boldness of its harmonic underlay – an absolute corker. Another gem was the Slave’s Lament, shot through with a weird Orientalism that captured the sultriness of the text – McGuire at his best.