Celtic Connections review: Skerryvore/We Banjo 3, Barrowland, Glasgow

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With Runrig planning to hang up their boots later this year, young Tiree bucks Skerryvore are well on their way to taking up their commercial Celtrock mantle, and made their lineage explicit by covering Rocket to the Moon from Runrig’s breakthrough album, The Cutter and the Clan. Potentially a global market awaits, primed by Outlander’s sweeping scenery, but for now a sell-out for their first ever Barrowland headline show sufficed.

Skerryvore/We Banjo 3, Barrowland, Glasgow ***

There are several elements at play in the Skerryvore sound and none of their settings were subtle. Epic schmaltzy skirls were teamed with washes of synthesizer and thundering stadium rock drums for instant widescreen scope, a Pink Floyd-influenced guitar and fiddle combo provided a bridge to a slab of Celtic pomp rock and a set from fiddler Craig Espie was backed by rave-tinged keyboards.

Better though were the fiery instrumentals where the acoustic and electric instruments could spark off each other in an energised tussle.

They were joined for a final hoolie and a jaunty zip through With A Little Help From My Friends by Galway’s We Banjo 3, whose well-received opening set comprised mainly inoffensive pop bluegrass where much of the colour came from Fergal Scahill’s athletic fiddling.

Energy levels soared with the guest appearance of Skerryvore’s new piper Scott Wood for a propulsive rendition of Gordon Duncan’s Pressed for Time with teasing bodhran solo.