Celtic Connections, Various Venues, Glasgow

4.00

It is difficult to imagine the post-Hogmanay hangover month of January without Celtic Connections, Glasgow's festival of traditional/ roots music. Launched 14 years ago, the festival has silenced doubting Scottish soothsayers by becoming one of the biggest events of its kind in Europe, with more than 1,000 artists and 300 events in 12 city venues.

From the outset, Celtic Connections was a gathering of loosely related musical clans, and this year's third and final week under the new artistic director Donald Shaw (from the Gaelic band Capercaillie) featured everyone from Rosanne Cash to Idlewild's Roddy Woomble, a joyous Asian-Scottish Burns Mela and the first Scottish showcase for artists from Peter Gabriel's Real World label.

In a programme studded with female American stars such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Cash unveiled Black Cadillac, a multi-media tribute to her father, Johnny. Closer to home, Woomble was ubiquitous, appearing in any number of guises while conducting his extraordinary author-musician collaboration, Ballads of The Book, in the Royal Concert Hall. The project, conceived by Woomble and the poet Edwin Morgan, had a group of leading Scottish writers, including Alasdair Gray and Louise Welsh, composing lyrics for the likes of Karine Polwart and James Yorkston. It didn't always work, but it was a fascinating experiment all the same.

The inaugural Burns Mela brought UK performers Michael McGoldrick and Michael Marra together with the Indian bansuri flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia, introducing Future Pilot AKA's Asian-dub versions of Burns songs sung by Capercaillie's ethereal Karen Matheson. Yet folk fundamentalists still moan about the all-inclusive packaging of genres under the Celtic banner - and the connections are often tenuous - but the global reach of Real World fits the festival's ethos perfectly. And it was even more fitting that the concert was dedicated to Martyn Bennett, the virtuoso Scottish musician and Real World artist who died from cancer in 2005.

In the fairy light-draped Old Fruitmarket - the setting for many Bennett concerts - Daby Touré, the charismatic Mauritanian singer-songwriter, opened, and promptly stole, the show. Playing songs from his forthcoming Stereo Spirit album, he skated gracefully between beguiling ballads, tingling Senegalese dance groves, high-stepping reggae and a kind of sprinting ska. Touré's voice has a sweet, high-register purity and his guitar-work is textured and pointed, rippling across gentle laments, hard chopping rhythms and body-slapping percussion. With his moving and uplifting set, Touré already has the makings of a world music star. "It's like a wee Womad," beamed Shaw. Well, maybe not yet - but it was an impressive start.

A storming set from Cuillin Music, a collection of Martyn Bennett's original collaborators, was a stirring reminder of his legacy as the foremost new traditionalist. Reprising his pungent, juddering electro-reels, the band's fiddles and bagpipes blended into a wash of samples from the keyboard of Bennett's sister Katrina - a stark reminder of his ability to seamlessly meld traditional and contemporary styles.

By contrast, Severa Nazarkhan, the petite 25-year- old Uzbekistan singer, seemed uneasily poised between ancient Uzbek music and coldly technological pop. The girl from Tashkent has a glorious, glacial voice, but the material is mediocre and even her dazzling presence couldn't dispel the momentary thoughts of Eurovision pop from my mind.

Finally, US alt-blues guitarist Skip "Little Axe" McDonald, accompanied by Keith LeBlanc and Doug Wimbish from The Sugarhill Gang, swayed into a set mixed by veteran producer Adrian Sherwood. McDonald's effects-laden swamp blues lends itself to Sherwood's loping ,dub- heavy production, and Bernard (Tackhead) Fowler's vocals conjured a sonic collage echoing with chain-gang chants and gospel. McDonald tends to the self-indulgent, stretching his woozy guitar meanderings to the limit, but this was a mighty ensemble in one of the most emotive nights of a festival confidently stepping into a new era.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition