Celtic Connections review: Roaming Roots Revue - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

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WHEN American drummer and singer Levon Helm died last spring, he left behind a legacy which extended far beyond a very notable career as the gravel-voiced sticksman with titans of classic US country rock The Band.

Roaming Roots Revue

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

* * * *

In more recent times, his Midnight Ramble shows at his home in Woodstock came to be world-renowned pilgrimage events among his followers, and a melting pot of new artists performing in the musical style which he helped pioneer. Curated by Glasgow singer-songwriter Roddy Hart, this broadly Caledonian version echoed the latter events rather than acting as a straight tribute.

Each of the local guests selected bore an appropriate level of natural quality blended with strong roots influences, with Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison delivering a rustic solo version of his own band’s Old Old Fashioned and Rachel Sermanni contrasting her own soft and wintery Song to a Fox with an unexpectedly powerful-voiced country version of Tennessee Jed, a Grateful Dead song which Helm performed. There was also something heroic about the way Beerjacket, aka singer-songwriter Peter Kelly, soldiered on through audio problems with his guitar, his take on Atlantic City emerging as a highlight.

Among such strong talents, however, two special guests shone: Ben Knox Miller of the vastly underrated Low Anthem and the ever-sublime Beth Orton, who made Acadian Driftwood her own. A finale of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and The Weight evoked the epic spirit of classic Band concert film The Last Waltz, with nearly 30 performers on stage for each.

David Pollock