Having helped keep the festival flag flying last year in EIF’s online project My Light Shines On, Breabach didn’t need asking twice to come and perform for an actual live audience this year. And judging by the reaction and the greetings exchanged as they arrive on stage, the Highlands and Islands five-piece are back among friends here.
Five-piece deliver impeccable modern folk, but don’t truly stir the soul
It’s all a little too pristine this evening though. The clinical atmosphere in the marquee can’t be helped, distancing restrictions being what they are, but there isn’t the right charisma coming off the stage to break down the space between us. The show takes on the formal air of a classical concert, and though the band urge us to clap along, and the toes can’t help but tap, it never quite stirs the soul like it might in less straitened surroundings.
The Last March, a tune found on the keyboard of late Cape Breton musician, John Morris Rankin after he died, provides an evocative moment and Òran Bhràigh Rùsgaich is gorgeous, the homesick yearning in Megan Henderson’s voice cutting through the atmosphere and melting our hearts. The boys in the band mix things up with some percussive beats on their stringed instruments and there are some barnstorming pipe and whistle blasts. But the sense we’re being schooled in folk is never far away, particularly when Henderson dons dancing shoes and we’re told this is one in the step dance tradition of the west of Scotland. All very lovely, all very well performed, everything in its right place. It’s just very, very wholesome.
Old College Quad
1 Jan 1970