Rychard Carrington reports on Shooglenifty - The Junction, Cambridge, 13 May 2010

Junction 2, The

Edinburgh-based Celtic fusion band Shooglenifty have been popular on the folk circuit, especially at festivals, for several years now. They are a great act to dance to, especially after a few beers or whiskeys. So a Shooglenifty gig at an all-seated theatre required a little adjusting. Right from the start I loved that oh-so-evocative Celtic fiddle, but it was a while before I fully appreciated the rest of the band, and became convinced that the music could please the ear sufficiently for the mind to override the body's frustration at having to remain seated.

The focal point for both ear and eye was fiddler Angus Grant, a Billy-Connolly-type Scot with long dark hair, beard, jeans and t-shirt. He introduced the tunes, many of which he had written, in a quietly witty manner that entertained in an unimposing kind of way. His fiddle sound really was lovely. Also prominent in the texture were the lively rhythms of drummer James Mackintosh. By the end, I was also particularly appreciating the contributions of Garry Finlayson on banjo, and being impressed by mandolin-player Laura-Beth Salter, from The Shee, who was actually playing her first gig as stand-in for Luke Plumb, who is taking a sojourn in his native Tasmania to recuperate from poor health. Bassist Quee Macarthur, and guitarist Malcolm Crosbie completed the line-up effectively, Crosbie coming into his own with some potent rock electric guitar in the last two numbers. The techno element in the mix has diminished, as it has also done for The Peatbog Faeries and Oi Va Voi. With Horace X disbanded, techno-folk appears to have had its day.

By the end the audience really were enjoying the music deeply. 'You make a Thursday seem more like a Friday' was Angus Grant's complimenmt to us. For the encore, Delighted, he finally persuaded us to dance, to th extent that this was possible in the space between the seats.

Oh that wonderful, bucolic feel of tuneful folk music: a fantastic celebration of what's best in life. It's a real tonic to hear music like this. 

Writer: Rychard Carrington