Music review: Le Vent du Nord & De Temps Antan

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There’s a supernatural yarn by Algernon Blackwood, called The Wendigo and set in the Canadian backwoods, in which the unwary are carried off by a terrifying entity with fading shrieks of “Oh, my burning feet of fire!” It came to mind the moment that the seven members of the combined Québécois bands Le Vent du Nord and De Temps Antan took the stage. Their feet started rattling and they never really stopped.

Le Vent du Nord & De Temps Antan ****

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

We’d already enjoyed a near-incendiary warm-up from another septet, Session A9, with their beefy, boogie school of strathspey playing and a fiery spin on Gordon Duncan’s The Bellydancer. The French-Canadian quartet and trio – already linked by sharing two pairs of siblings in the Beaudry and Brunet brothers – cranked up the action further with their frenetic foot percussion and an instrumental mix including two fiddles, accordions, hurdy-gurdy and guitars, plus much lusty Québécois call-and-response singing.

This was delivered at the kind of skelp that was clearly designed to grab you by the scruff of the neck and hurl you round a Quebec kitchen. A little more explaining of some of the songs would have been welcome: they might be heralded by a demonic buzz of jaw harps, or the grainy strains of hurdy-gurdy, but there were some fine a cappella interludes, their muscular, warm-toned harmonies led by Pierre Luc Dupuis, Simon Beaudry or Nicolas Boulerice. Throughout, however, the irresistible rattle of flying feet rarely let up.