Dallahan and Stundom, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****
Dallahan are the sort of well drilled yet intuitive outfit who in another, kinder year could set the Celtic Connections Festival Club alight. However, with all (official) late night merriment cancelled at this year’s festival, this dynamic quartet had to get the party started in the pristine environment of the no-drinks-allowed new auditorium of the Concert Hall in front of an audience who were keen to go with them, and clapping optimistically from the start.
With a line-up comprising singer-guitarist Jack Badcock, who led on the mellow ache of an original heartbreak number, accordionist Andrew Waite, banjo and mandolin player Ciaran Ryan and fiddle prodigy Benedict Morris (the utterly undaunted new boy), they often sounded like a folk band playing rock tunes which were then spiced up with characterful instrumental passages and juicy opportunities to show off solo chops.
Their self-styled “world folk” sound was showcased by the gypsy freedom of a fiddle-accordion pas de deux – which must have made their “cosmological trance” set inspired by Carl Sagan their out-of-this-world folk sound – and by the time they hit their closing set of propulsive reels, this ensemble were positively zinging.
Thankfully, in all the uncertainty and restrictions, an international element to the festival has been preserved.
Copenhagen trio Stundom returned to Celtic Connections following their 2020 debut, offering a gentler class of jig than the headliners. However, fiddler Emma Elmøe, pianist Julian Svejgaard Jørgensen and cittern player Villads Hoffmann had some distinct tricks up their sleeve.
Their homage to cycling (downhill) captured a sense of freewheeling release, their affectionate tribute to the rollercoasters in Denmark’s vintage amusement parks slightly less so, and they will almost certainly be the only act at this year’s festival to incorporate the enchanting tinkle of an antique music box in their set.
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