First gig of the year – its Celtic Connections (big celtic/folk festival in Glasgow) at the moment which is always a good time to go and see gigs – and makes me miss working in Glasgow and making spur of the moment gig attending decisions.
The Peatbog Fairies are one of many bands I’ve discovered since my hospital radio show morphed into being a Scottish music show. Bands I’ve discovered in the continuing quest for different music to play each week tend to fall into one of three categories, ‘new and/or obscure’, ‘oh I didn’t know they were Scottish, excellent’ or ‘folk’. Folk is a fairly broad church, as it covers various kinds of traditional scottish music styles and artists that use traditional instruments in new/innovative ways. I tend to take ‘would it look out of place on the bill at Celtic Connections?’ as a guideline if I have any doubts. My former trainee (who’s now graduated to a show of her own) suggested a few folk fusion bands to me, one of which were these fine fellows and they ended up being staples of the show. Naturally when I spotted they were playing at Celtic connections I had to go and see them live.
Were, appropriately enough, a bit of an odd choice for a support act for the Peatbogs, and for Celtic Connections generally. One of my companions for the evening L (my aforementioned former trainee at the radio station) summmed them up as ‘a Scottish Rage Against the Machine‘. Which all things considered seems about right.
They were clearly having fun and getting into what they were doing to the extent that it was really hard to get a moment when they stayed still for long enough to get more than one of them in a photograph at the same time and in focus!
Veronika Elektronika is this lassie’s name and she has a seriously excellent voice, actually it was her voice that held my attention initially. I was impressed by her voice first and because of that I had more patience with the MC. I’m not really a hip hop fan but I guess good lyrics always win out and all the best hip hop is political. Been ages since I’ve seen a live band that actually had some obvious political or social commentary in their lyrics. The album’s up on Spotify (Winter of Discontent and The Day I Went Deaf are recommended) if you want to check them out, though I don’t think the records really do them justice – the polished finish seems to take something away from both their voices. The live proposition is much more raw and passionate.
The Peatbog Fairies
The Peatbog Fairies on the other hand were perfectly capable of standing still for long enough to get their photograph taken, but their lightshow wasn’t. Ouch. I don’t know if it’s generally a thing with them or if it was just the ABC but that was one agressive light show, not suitable for epileptics, those with photophobic eyes or those with remotely sensitive eyes to be honest.
I give you one utterly bleached out Trombonist as evidence (though I rather like the way the light and smoke mix in this image).
The have a brass section on tour with them at the moment (called the Wayward Boys) who added an extra dimension – though there was a slight excess of sax in Caberdrone at the end – and I do love a bit of brass regardless of genre.
The Peatbogs have been on the go for 15 years now, so they’ve dabbled in all sorts of genres over the years. Which makes the set quite a mix of styles and instruments, and also made for a rather eclectic audience, with different segments getting rather over-excited about different parts of their set – though I think There’s a Girl Behind the Bar Who Thinks She’s Garbo went down well with everyone… I personally prefer their folk-electronica fusion stuff, whereas a large section of the audience was clearly there for the more jazz inflected tunes from their latest album. They did, however, manage a good sprinking from throughout their career which kept the crowd happy. Plus, watching a fiddle player and a bagpiper compete over who can play faster a la lead guitarists (on a suitably rocky number) is always impressive.