Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne is an hour of soothing calm amidst the chaotic bustle of the Fringe and a plea to make time for the things and the people that matter to you the most.
Under the auspices of exploring the enduring popularity of the traditional folk song, musician and performer Mairi Campbell reflects on her own times past and the people that matter to her. We hear about Dave, her musical collaborator and eventually partner in life. We also her about Catriona, her childhood friend and co-conspirator in her early more and less musical efforts. Mairi also talks about her brilliantly down-to-earth community choir.
These recollections allow her to weave a tale of her burgeoning musical career, rooted in folk music, based around her viola and singing, but skipping across musical boundaries. The musician takes in jazz, Celtic music and contemporary songs written by partner Dave. She tells a spectacular, very funny anecdote about being invited to sing Auld Lang Syne at a reception at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC to honour Sean Connery and midway through the song, forgetting the words.
But strewn throughout these recollections is a beautiful mix of song, traditional fiddle and intricate animations from Claire Lamond. Campbell has a beautiful, wistful voice that seems to drip with longing for these times now past. This voice feels equally at home within the jaunty jazzy serenade to the relationship to her partner, penned by Dave Gray in the early days of their romance. She’s an accomplished musician with excellent vocal control and a voice full of warmth.
This carefully constructed show is a brush with times past and a handy translation of the Burns’ words you’ve never quite understood. It is also a tribute to the serendipitous circumstance that turned this traditional folk song into an internationally recognised symbol of the end of one year and the start of the next and a reflection on the importance of “takking a cup o’ kindess yet”. And in this disconnected world amidst occasional attempts to foster community spirit, you can’t help thinking that’s a pretty powerful message.