Breabach The Queen's Hall Edinburgh Review Friday 23rd November 2018

With Edinburgh Entertainment & Arts

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Breabach, the multi-award winning Scottish Band, brought to The Queen ‘s Hall Edinburgh stage tonight a blend of traditional music, self-written songs inspired by many musical cultures, and music from their new album” Frenzy of the Meeting”.

Uniting the talents of Megan Henderson (Fiddle, Vocals plus tonight some traditional dancing), James Lindsay (Double Bass, Vocals), Calum MacCrimmon (Bagpipes, Whistle, Vocals), James Duncan Mackenzie (Bagpipes, Flute), and Ewan Robertson (Guitar, Vocals), Breabach is more of a music collective than many standard bands as, here, all members are songwriters, and those distinctly different personalities are what give the band its unique musical sound and feel.  Breabach are very much a touring band and their travels to different countries have allowed each member to absorb and be influenced by other musical customs and cultures in their own individual way, and this is what is allowing their music to often be taking inspiration outside of traditional Scottish musical roots.  Many of the musical roots that they are incorporating into their music do though weave through each other as people have taken their music with them wherever they went over the years.

With a new album out to promote, many of the songs in tonight’s set came from “Frenzy of the Meeting”, the follow up to their award winning 2016 album “Astar”.  The new album is pretty much a statement in music of where the band are “now” as there is a blend here of traditional songs like  “Invergordon’s Welcome” and “The Oban Ball” contrasting sharply with a very contemporary title –“Google This”.  Traditional influences on new music are evident too on songs like “Prince’s Strand” and the title track of this new album “Frenzy of The Meeting”.

Breaback were on stage for a two hour set here (with a short interval), so visits to some music from the last album “Astar” and others from their back catalogue allowed the band to more than get some “standard” foot tappers and crowd-pleasers into the evening’s music.  Along the way, we got an insight too into what makes  “Breabach” as a band individual as they paid their due respects to not only the roots of their musical influences, but some of the people behind the music that has so much inspired them over the years not only as a band, but as individuals.

The Queen’s Hall is, as anyone reading my reviews of performances there will know, one of my favourite venues as it is a very rare natural acoustic space for performers and audiences alike, and in that respect, this show was no different.  Breabach are however, I think, very much a live performance band more at home playing music festivals and venues designed for getting up and dancing, and a rather reserved at times audience in a fully seated venue was sometimes not giving the band the feedback that they needed to step up a gear with their music.  The band know exactly what they are doing on stage though and how to get the best response out of an audience, and although it did feel at times like it was taking some time for band and audience to fully connect with one another, there was no doubt in the final songs and encore that Breabach had at the end of the night more than made that connection with the audience at The Queen’s Hall.

 

Review by Tom King

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