Glasgow Royal Concert Hall *****
Despite their near-identical, seven-piece instrumentation – four-fiddle frontline, bass and guitar, plus harp/piano for the Shetlanders, mandolin/cittern the Finns – the contrast in their sounds and repertoires made for a hugely rewarding night’s music, much of it original in each case.
When they work up a full head of steam, Fiddlers’ Bid are still fuelled by the same hectic fervour that’s been their hallmark – together with outstanding talent, even by Shetland fiddle standards – ever since they formed as schoolboys.
Over 25 years on, though, it’s allied with a wealth of seasoned creative sophistication, displayed here in both daredevil high-speed ensemble jousting and gorgeously arrayed slower numbers, including a Nordic-accented waltz ending with an immaculate live fade, dwindling exquisitely into pin-drop silence. Given the ambitious complexity of such material, extra-special praise is due to fiddler Ross Couper, who stepped in for a flu-stricken Maurice Henderson, and did the gig on a day’s rehearsal.
Frigg likewise distilled a virtuosic abundance of tonal, textural, rhythmic and dynamic variety into their exultantly thrilling yet phenomenally tight set, one of the highlights of which was a fabulously wild Finnish/Balkan mash-up and an AC/DC-inspired polska, while a blissfully sumptuous finale united all 14 players onstage.