Music review: Le Vent du Nord/Julie Fowlis, Leith Theatre

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Le Vent du Nord must melt the snow in their native Quebec. Led by twin fiddles and hurdy-gurdy, driven by incessantly rattling foot percussion, the quintet’s unbridled energy rarely let up in this Light on the Shore concert.

Le Vent du Nord/Julie Fowlis, Leith Theatre (****)

Jigs and reels, played against a demonic buzz of hurdy gurdy, accordion or Jew’s harp, alternated with lusty vocal harmonising, either in call-and-response – as in La Marche des Iroquois – or in a cappella interludes reminiscent of the bygone French band Malicorne.

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Gaelic star Julie Fowlis, who joined the Canadians towards the end of their set, gave a fine if rather less manic opening performance with her quintet – which also featured twin fiddle/viola players in Duncan Chisholm and Patsy Reid, and was augmented briefly by Donald Shaw on accordion.

The band built up a fine rhythmic tension in the puirt a beul excursions, but where the poised clarity of Fowlis’s singing shone was in the plaintive yearning of a song concerning the each-uisge – the water-horse of Highland legend – a heartfelt Runrig tribute in Old Boys, and a Galician song, Camariñas, its lyrics slipping between Gaelic and Galego.