LIVE FOLK REVIEW

Macnas

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

****

THE Portree-based record label Macmeanmna brought its stars to the central belt at the weekend. The music ranged from solo unaccompanied Gaelic song to the Highland instrumental music of The Clunes Collection and the duo of harmonica player Donald Black and Runrig guitarist Malcolm Jones, who brought a shiver of the blues to the Highland tune sets.

Despite that diversification over its 16-year existence, the label was founded to promote Gaelic song, and that remains its central focus. Kenna Campbell and Donnie Murdo MacLeod are both great representatives of the expressive, highly emotive art of traditional Gaelic singing, whether solo or with harmony and instrumental accompaniment. The concert also featured the lovely close harmony singing of Mackenzie, three sisters originally from Lewis.

Cliar topped the bill, featuring the singing of Arthur Cormack, Mary Ann Kennedy and Maggie MacDonald, with Bruce MacGregor on fiddle, Ingrid Henderson on clarsach and piano, and a new guitarist, Ross Martin.

Their potent combination of vocal and instrumental prowess brought a long show to an impressive conclusion, topped by the inevitable mass finale. It was a convincing declaration of the current health of Gaelic music, as well as Macmeanmna’s role as a standard-bearer for it.