Celtic Connections review: Moonlight Benjamin, Saint Luke’s, Glasgow

Celtic Connections continued its honourable tradition of introducing exciting new talent to an up-for-it audience with Haitian singer Moonlight Benjamin, who has made some fascinating and seamless musical connections of her own, creating a stormy stew of Haitian voodoo incantation with western blues rock, with some underlying jazz chops from her studies in her adopted home of France.

Moonlight Benjamin

Celtic Connections review: Moonlight Benjamin, Saint Luke’s, Glasgow ****

A swampy blues riff set the tone as the charismatic Benjamin sashayed onstage, her deep, guttural voice full of authority, her heart full of love and her spirit betraying just a touch of mischief. She led the audience on a dynamic dance and soon enough had the crowd howling at the moon as the band worked up into a voodoo frenzy.

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Her young rocking associates matched her every step of the way, with Tuareg tones on guitar over hypnotic rhythms, dusky Dustbowl twang and pacy, persistent, funky grooves over which her rich voice danced.

A torrid blues rock number, with brooding slide guitar and thunderclap drums, provided a brief breather before the band unleashed a squalling rock epic, climaxing in a cathartic scream.

But Benjamin wasn’t finished there. Her voice was foregrounded on a funky chanson as she urged the remaining seated portion of the audience to their feet for another climactic wave of mighty, sonorous guitar wrangling and encored with an atmospheric husky ballad, before the rest of the band joined her for an Afro-funky closing celebration of jit-jive and fleet, jazzy drum fills. - Fiona Shepherd