Gig review: Dán, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

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DOES pan-Celtic fusion really have to be so loud? Dán – it means “poem” – comprised 13 first-rate musicians from Scotland, England, Ireland and Brittany drawn from bands Kan, Guidewires, and a Breton quartet, plus singer Alyth McCormack.


Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow


The instrumentalists included such notables as Scots fiddler Aidan O’Rourke, Ulster whistle player Brian Finnegan and Breton flautist Sylvain Barou, as well as accordion, guitar, bouzouki, bass, drums, plus the less usual strains of trumpet. Too often, however, all regional characteristics seemed to morph into a sort of overblown Celtic Connections house band sound.

Ostensibly themed around the seas that link the Celtic regions, and with McCormack singing and reciting the nautically inspired lyrics of Irish poet and voyager Theo Dorgan, the evening nonetheless had some memorable moments and richly textured arrangements, when the nuances weren’t too swamped.

McCormack, ever a delicately poised singer, generally managed to clearly deliver Dorgan’s verse – “So small the boat, so big the sea”, as well as reciting Mike Tickell’s poem evoking a miner’s life, before some energetic staccato flute brought in another high-powered set.

The second half opened with trumpet and flute answering each other over pizzicato strings, while a tidal surge of electronic sound brought in another song from McCormack, although it was hard to discern whether she was singing in Gaelic or Breton. There were some energetic Breton-sounding cyclical dances and some genuinely impressive sparring between twin fiddles, trumpet and accordion.

Just a little more clarity would have been welcome.