Celtic Connections review: Treacherous Orchestra, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

Eleven-piece powerhouse The Treacherous Orchestra got the Celtic Connections party started with an evening of maximalist yet judiciously calibrated energy, writes Fiona Shepherd

Treacherous Orchestra, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow *****

The first Saturday night of Celtic Connections at the Old Fruitmarket is prime party territory and there can be no better band to fill that slot than the revitalised 11-piece powerhouse Treacherous Orchestra, returning to their spiritual home after an absence of five years.

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Their dynamic and charismatic line-up has long made that Celtic connection between acoustic and electronic dance music using classic DJ techniques, from stoking anticipation to euphoric release to multiple false endings. This big band knows that the only thing better than an earworm hookline is repeating that hookline over and over like a Celtic raga.

The Treacherous Orchestra at the Old Fruitmarket PIC: Gaelle Beri for Celtic Connections

They created anticipation for their comeback with atmospheric lighting and a pregnant throb, teasing the intro to their folk Zeppelin behemoth March of the Troutsmen, setting up a fleet ceilidh with tricksy yet satisfying time signatures.

Their softer moments majored on melody, an elegant dance between Adam Sutherland and Innes Watson’s fiddles or Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton’s pipes or both. This Orchestra are blessed to have so many talented writers in the band, with accordionist John Somerville producing the polka-influence Halcyon Daze and Ainslie’s mellifluous and moving epic Easter Island the cue for swaying phone lights.

The Long Count was an occasion for Somerville's top hat to get an outing (later given up to the rowdy crowd) and new guitarist Jenn Butterworth to set up a hypnotic rhythm.

After more than an hour of maximalist yet judiciously calibrated energy, the band needed their own breather in the shape of a brief ambient guitar and fuzz bass interlude, joined by plaintive fiddle, whistle and accordion, before the sound built up again to an ecstaticcrescendo.

They encored with quirky jig Sausages, channelling the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, before all trilling away in exhilaration on the intoxicating Superfly.