Celtic Connections review: The Gloaming/Patsy Reid, Glasgow

Perthshire fiddler and singer Patsy Reid
Perthshire fiddler and singer Patsy Reid
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MY star rating is calibrated against expectations as well as outcome, for while both acts delivered strong, enjoyable performances, each fell noticeably short of the heights anticipated.

The Gloaming/ Patsy Reid - City Halls, Glasgow

* * *

The Gloaming are a new Irish/US supergroup comprising the revered fiddle/guitar duo of Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, Afro Celts vocalist Iarla Ó Lionaird, the innovative Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh on hardanger fiddle and five-string viola, and New York pianist Thomas Bartlett. With formidable reputations, and ecstatic early reviews, it was disappointing that much of their sound resembled a fleshed-out version of Hayes and Cahill’s duo work, while the songs often differed little from Ó Lionaird’s solo material.

While there were interesting semi-improvised exchanges among the players, and a few boldly experimental contemporary song settings, The Gloaming seem yet to fully realise their distinct raison d’être as a band.

In Perthshire fiddler and singer Patsy Reid’s case, it may simply have been nerves and the big sold-out occasion that took the edge off her set, as she launched her ambitious debut solo album, The Brightest Path, flanked by a new six-piece band plus string quintet. There was a wealth of adventurous composition and arrangements, interspersed with an artful selection of contemporary cover songs, but Reid’s own playing at times seemed short on its usual vivid assurance and vibrant attack, exacerbated by an often muddy sound mix.