Capercaillie

 

Date 11 August 2005 at 21.00 Venue Commodore Ballroom

Reviewer Kulpreet Sasan


 

Karen Matheson, vocals; Donald Shaw, keyboards/accordion; Charles McKerron, fiddle; Manus Lunny, bouzouki/guitar; Michael McGoldrick, flute/pipes/whistles; Ewen Vernal, bass; David Robertson, percussion Che Beresford, drums

 


Capercaillie have been making music together since 1984, have toured the world, completed eight albums, and have had brushes with fame including being featured on the soundtrack to Liam Neeson historical drama Rob Roy. Featuring them as key performers at this yearís Festival Vancouver was an inspired choice.

The Commodore Ballroom was the perfect venue for this concert by traditional Celtic music's super group. The wide open dance floor with the legendary bounce in it, the easy seating on the side, the free flowing barley, hops, and other intoxicants all added up to a festive atmosphere by the time Capercaillie arrived on stage.

The scene was intense and wild, and anticipation was in the air. As soon as the band started playing various groups of people started to find sections of the floor to attempt their own versions of interpretive Celtic dancing.

And there were some who were quite capable of doing various Riverdance revival moves (is it too early for a revival?) and others, not quite coordinated, were unable to stop themselves from moving to the rhythms and swayed and bounced to the music in a variety of interesting and robust gestures. Everyone was lost to the music that switched from rousing, rollicking numbers to the more serene and haunting tunes that have a way of touching the soul's core. The crowd was a mixed bag of ages and nationalities, although a strong Scottish-expat component was present.

 

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There can be little doubt about the talent of the musicians on stage. Although presenting traditional Celtic music very capably, there were also element of rock, funk, and samba thrown into the mix, seamlessly and without a note of artifice. The band shifted fluidly from one rhythm to another and kept the evening buzzing at a frenetic pitch.

Of particular note was the voice of Karen Matheson, which was described by fellow Scotsman Sean Connery as having been ďtouched by the hand of god.Ē After listening to her for a song or two, you donít doubt Mr. Bondís sentiment. Itís haunting and precise soprano never feels cold and has rich and luxuriant undertones. Itís the voice of the platonic lullaby, keeping us entrenched and lulling us to sleep.

Also noteworthy was the pipe playing of Michael McGoldrick, who dexterously playing off against Chalie McKerron on fiddle provided many of the instrumental highlights and propelled all those not already moving in step with the music to find their own reasons to fly.

By the end of the night, all on the dance floor were moving. When the band was called out for their first encore, they performed a hunting ballad followed by rollicking number. By the end of the second encore, the floor shaking in step with the stomping feet, you could forgive one and all for being exhausted and looking forward to a richly earned rest.

© 2005 Kulpreet Sasan


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