Celtic Connections review: Delgres, Drygate Brewery, Glasgow

The roots of the blues are literally in Delgres singer-guitarist Pascal Danaë’s blood. Born in Paris, he’s the son of Guadeloupean immigrants and his great-great-grandmother was a slave. Many Guadeloupeans’ flight to Louisiana in the 19th century contributed significantly to the French-Caribbean influence in early jazz and blues – a heritage that Delgres celebrate riotously in their own novel and backside-kicking contemporary way.

Delgres: their Celtic Connections set had just about everything

Delgres, Drygate Brewery, Glasgow ****

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It’s no mean feat to bring a fresh slant to a music style that’s as old as the hills, but Danaë, with powerhouse stunt drummer Baptiste Brondy and souped-up sousaphone player Rafgee, did it with style at this mystifyingly all-seated Celtic Connections show. Mixing swampy Delta blues with the stomp of a New Orleans marching band, Rafgee’s hulking instrument fed through a bass amp to create a fat bottom-end like you’ve never heard before. Theirs is richly kinetic music that goes straight to the feet – think Ali Farka Toure meets the Black Keys.

The beret-sporting Danaë – the kind of badass who wears sunglasses indoors even in Scotland in January – thrummed a mean open-tuned electric guitar while wailing ragged devotionals and laments in Creole. Language was no barrier to discerning the message behind his songs, be it the practically AC-DC heavy-riffing Mo Jodi, a rousing tribute to “freedom fighters around the world right now who have so much to do”, or tenderly mournful song of parting Séré Mwen Pli Fo (Hold Me Tighter).

Chuck in a cheeks-bursting virtuoso electro-sousaphone solo and a sludgy Creole cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, and this set had just about everything. - Malcolm Jack