Celtic Connections, Various Venues, Glasgow


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.

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?