Edinburgh Folk and Harp Festivals


The Edinburgh Folk and Harp Festivals combined for the opening Queen’s Hall concert, with Galway quartet Dordan creating a unique sound on Irish

harp, fiddle, vocals and, outstandingly, tin whistle. Mary Bergin handles the little

instrument as well as anyone, and to hear the cascade of perfectly articulated notes tumble out in their folk/baroque style is always a delight. The quartet performs well, although the singer's technique on the djembe drum is pretty basic, but a bit more spontaneity and fizz would liven things up a bit.

Dordan followed Savourna Stevenson’s variety of textures for small harp and combinations of sax, flute, double bass and fiddle. With stalwart jazzers Steve Kettley and Brian Shiels, and young Shetland fiddle star Catriona MacDonald, Stevenson ran through her trademark jazzy, riffy compositions, with excerpts from her Robert Louis Stevenson suite. Great playing all round, but it's difficult to use the harp as a lead ensemble instrument, and Stevenson's, though always audible, often became a secondary voice.

From Brittany, the two women in Sedrenn used the harp in a more traditional manner, which was pleasing, but it was their songs in simple but apposite and moving arrangements that were very well received at the Harp Festival proper.

Powerhouse Canadian/Scots fiddling was the order of the day up at the Folk Festival Hall, when Richard Wood - not yet twenty and already a star back home played with his trio. Like Ashley Maclsaac, he takes

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Brass Monkey played a blinding away game


the fiddle far out from its native kitchen party ambience, but unlike the super-trendy and rock- oriented Cape Bretoner, keeps the accompaniment to the basic piano and guitar. Young Daria Chaisson on keyboard nearly stole the show with her high-energy vamping, rollicking harmony and bass lines.

The Usher Hall concert with another Cape Breton fiddle star, Natalie MacMaster, in conjunction with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, was a creditable attempt that in the end proved something of a damp squib. Perhaps we've had enough Cape Breton for a

Carthy and John Kirkpatrick are two of the finest folk

subcircus: some way to go before hitting the big top of musical fame

ROCK subcircus/Coney Island Cyclone

Edinburgh: La Belle Anne

Tue 25 ’i-iar.

entcn the words ‘iotk trio' and you think, 'Ah, skinny boys \vitb guitars hit ’2’.) way past eleven' Hello w'tey island Cyclone Yes, they do that itréiisy, borderline metal thing so bowed of 't:e-taidiganed US college {’11 kers tie Sebadoah Some songs are ls 'ifiS are a shade


less so. One song commits the cardinal sin of evoking the spirit of Pearl Jam before they amble off with dreams of Mudhoney support slots

subcircus, though, have a blinking neon logo a la Pulp and a vocalist not averse to a splash of Max Factor Everything bodes well Singer Paul Bradley lnr slopes on stage resplendent in a sober double-breasted affair like some ultra-alien Dr Who A younger, Kohled-up Denholm Elliot With plastic fantastic Jarvis shades perched, Just so, upon his head So,

musicians in the British Isles, and to hear them in this line-up of colliery/military brass, tradesman's moothie and Sally Army percussion was the highlight of the Festival's first half. (Norman Chalmers)

ignoring guitarist NIkOlOJ, who bears an uneasy resemblance to Jay from Kula Shaker (ie he looks like the result of an unholy alliance between Noel Edmonds and some bemused, time- hopping son of the soil from the Middle Ages), all is present and correct. Cue the expected wash of sweeping Suede melodrama and Placebo (not so teenage) angst.

Well, not guite See, subcucus have the influences, they just don't have the songs Mostly they meander along like the duller parts from the first Suede album. The debt to Radiohead's The Bends is clear, with their incessant use of the road-tested ’Quiet, intense, BLOODY HELL' LOUD" fermula. But the bombast seems empty, at least tonight Whereas Radiohead's WldC- screen miserablism is tempered with a kind of bruised optimism ~ due in no small part to those heavenly melodies

suhcmus Just ramble .n the iloldrums, weighted down by their (rippling tune deficit

There is a point lt?‘.‘.‘éi"(ls the end of their set though, during a guitar solo that Bernard Butler might think, 'Needs a bit of pruning’ that they scramble onto one of those plateaus that they’re aiming for The guitar hits that note, Bradley croons with what for the first time seems like genuuie heart and then they go off

England won the away game mid-week, when Brass ; Monkey played the Festival's Teviot House. Martin

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Hopefully to \Nl'liC some SOiigs (Paul


live MUSIC

ROCK Huckleberry HM Edinburgh: The Venue, Wed 27 Apr.

it's difficult to imagine say Cast or Oasis having to entice their audiences down to the front of the stage by bribing them with Roses chocolates but it seems to work for Huckleberry. Although the audience's reticence is perfectly understandable given that Vic, the frontman, is, to all intents and purposes, several sandwiches short of a picnic. When not laughing manically, he's gurning like a guppie in an advanced state of asphyxiation and trying to wash behind his ears with his tongue.

it’s a compelling, amusing sight and particularly suited to Huckleberry's manic sound. Formed from the bits and bobs of the Khartoum Heroes, Miraclehead and the Skhuobie Dubh Orchestra, a Huckleberry gig is a bit like stumbling across a riotous student festivity where the bastard offspring of Madness and a Danish hardcore band have seized control of the stereo and are playing all the host's Wonder Stuff albums at the wrong speed.

Big, beefy, bouncy party tunes ricochet around the room; the keyboard player switches the organ to the Wurlitzer warp factor ten setting, the guitars crank it up and the wired kids down the front who went for the chocs redouble their efforts to sweat out all their bodily fluids before the lights go up.

’This one's called "Nervous Station”,’ Vic informs us. ’lt’s tonight’s ballad.’ Cue punkoid, thrash mayhem.

'This one's called “Coffee”,’ intones VIC, ’lt’s for all you people who like to go medieval jOUSIllig at the weekend.’ Cue much in the way of bemused bonce scratching before the frugging sets in. Get the idea?

Not that it's all about off the wall joking, goitar mangling and go faster stripes on the fretboard. Huckleberry play fast, they play hard and they Iark about but it’s the tunes that carry it all off. Subtle shades of melody don't get a look in but who needs them when there's boisterous pop malarkey to be had? (Jonathan Trew)

Huckleberry: mad as snakes

STAR RATINGS ii. * iv * * Outstanding * a it * Recommended it it it Worth a try fr * So-so ii Poor

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