Missy Lorelei has an evening she describes as 'emotional, lovely, maddening and frustrating.'
Words of dissent will always find a platform with music, and Scottish folk singer Karine Polwart’s evening of protest songs starts off strongly.
Polwart is an impassioned, impish host with a gorgeous, crystal-cut voice and a terrific band. Her trio play traditional instruments and keep it low-key and there is something about the catch in Polwart’s throat when she sings the pro-environmental song ‘Cover Your Eyes,’ dedicated to Donald Trump’s land takeover, which is heart-stopping.
Israeli singer Kamilya Jubran is a revelation; her soaring vocals may be in Arabic, but the audience hang on her every word. ‘Ankamishu’ which translates as ‘I Shrink’ sounds like a lament for the lost and as she batters her oud (a lute-like instrument) the room feels charged with kinetic energy; raw, visceral and amazing.
I am all for multi-culturalism being represented at Celtic Connections and was very excited to see John Trudell, a Native American singer from Nebraska- however this performance is so earnest it is bordering on risible. The Native American voice is a beautiful instrument, but the oh-so-sincere translator intoning, a la William Shatner, “The moon…is hungry for the sun…to torch…THE EARTH!” makes several of us shift in our seats. It is not helped by a fromage-y backing synth (synthetic tom-toms? Urrrggghhh!) and Dire Straits-esque guitars. Ultimately, it sounds like a self-help meditation tape, which I am sure was not the intention…
Chris Wood is an English singer-songwriter who writes pithy songs blending self-effacing humour with coruscating political statement. ‘Hollow Point’ is a real sucker punch, his staccato acoustic guitar picking building in menace like the unfolding narrative of the Jean Charles De Menezes murder in Stockwell Station in 2005. Lest we forget.
Tonight, Justin Currie is gonna protest like it’s 1989. He seems like a nice chap, full of charm, but his tunes are crushingly anodyne, lyrics too focused on easy targets as with ‘No Surrender’ ( The Daily Mail and fat cats are corrupt? Really? Brilliant…)- which is, I fear his ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’, complete with yet again, pre-programmed synth backing.
Pura Fe, who makes her Scottish debut tonight, is an American singer, activist, ballet dancer and musician with a massive gospel-inflected voice despite her tiny frame and has an immensely talented duo of pedal-steel/acoustic guitarists. ‘Roots’ provides a stomping country soul finale to an evening which for me has been emotional, lovely, maddening and frustrating in equal measure.
A bit like politics, in fact…