Celtic Connections review: Shooglenifty & the Kinnaris Quintet, Barrowland, Glasgow

The Kinnaris Quintet
The Kinnaris Quintet
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If the Old Fruitmarket functions as Celtic Connections party venue, then Barrowland must be for those acts who take the dance to another level. Veteran Celtic groove merchants Shooglenifty, self-styled as “acid croft”, have the musical wanderlust as well as the rocking electric bottom end to summon their audience to a world ceildh.

Music review: Shooglenifty & the Kinnaris Quintet, Barrowland, Glasgow ****

The bittersweet job of honouring the gypsy spirit of their late fiddler Angus Grant continues, but Eilidh Shaw had clearly already carved her place in this tight-but-loose outfit as they galloped through Paranoia, a peppy dance tune resolving into a hypnotic Afrobeat groove.

Puirt a beul vocalist Kaela Rowan added to their rhythmic palette before the guest list began to mushroom, first in cathartic, celebratory Indo-Celtic fusion with their Rajasthani chums Dayam and Latif Khan Manganiyar from the band Dhun Dhora and later with Tasmanian cohort Luke Plumb on mandolin who joined Laura-Beth Salter on a dub-driven duet.

Salter’s sparkly string band Kinnaris Quintet had effectively warmed up the crowd with their opening set, picking up pace through slow airs and spartan lilting strings, adding peppy, choppy guitar across a number of thrumming dance tunes.

Shooglenifty, meanwhile, just kept adding to the stage personnel. The innate energy of Galician vocal trio Tanxugueiras blew in like a second wind to propel East West, their hosts’ debut single (after 29 years), as well as a beefed-up band arrangement of a Galician vocal number, before the entire company returned to the stage for a jubilant massed encore. - Fiona Shepherd