Celtic Connections review: Elephant Revival/Salt House, Glasgow

Colorado five-piece Elephant Revival took us into a wee small hours. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Colorado five-piece Elephant Revival took us into a wee small hours. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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EVEN without the late start forced by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra overrunning in the City Halls upstairs, pushing Elephant Revival’s finish into the early hours of Saturday, this show felt like it could have gone on all night, such an abundance of prodigiously talented songwriters did it assemble.

Elephant Revival/Salt House - Old Fruitmarket,Glasgow

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Young Scottish indie-trad quartet Salt House – who had waited anxiously by the side of the stage for the SSO’s last note – capitalised confidently on one of their biggest shows to date. Led by the fragrantly-voiced Siobhan Miller, they drew together songs from a rich variety of sources, be it guitarist Ewan MacPherson’s striking original Strong Dark Souls or intuitively arranged traditionals such as She Walks In Beauty, a Lord Byron poem transformed into an atmospheric murder ballad.

Colorado five-piece Elephant Revival are a group of multiple songwriters each contributing slightly different flavours to an exotic blend inspired by geography from the Kansas Great Plains to the Scottish Hebrides. Bonnie Paine’s silken, otherworldly singing and full-bodied washboard and djembe percussion brought drama both aural and visual.

Giant, booming-voiced guitarist/banjo player Daniel Rodriguez’s To And From was a standout among his songs in a more contemporary Americana vein, while fiddler Bridget Law – Elephant Revival’s own Celtic connection, after a chance meeting with Alasdair White from the Battlefield Band in a bar in Austin led to her teaching fiddle on Taransay – leant flair factor with her energetic solos. The bulk of their set was maybe all a little sleepier than a Friday night crowd had come expecting, but the Coloradans shrewdly stepped it up a gear latterly with the foot-stomping Old Rogue River and Grace of a Woman, towards a stirring wee small hours finish.

Seen on 24.01.14