Though the venue was just shy of the heart of Glasgow's city centre, you'd barely have known just where you were. An evening of fine celtic music saw the James Graham Trio and Maggie MacInnes entertain those amassed in St Andrews In The Square. Weren't you half expecting a hymn sheet upon entrance! Ba mhaith liom cupan caife!
The James Graham Trio are composed of two suitably dexterous musicians in James Ross (piano) and Neil Johnstone (cello), who created the perfect the symphonic backdrop for James Graham to sing over. Graham's chanting was entirely in Gaelic and I'm sure many in the audience were more than aware. Those less fluent in Gaelic were given perfect reason to learn. Owing almost as much to classical awareness as to celtic sounds, The James Graham Trio are an excellent example of how modern music in the Gaelic tongue can have widespread appeal.
Coming from a family deep-soaked in musical brilliance, you'd expect at least a minim of musical understanding in Maggie MacInnes. This was, of course, to be the case. Resplendent in a shining black dress, Ms MacInnes - flanked by the wonderful Anna Massie (guitar) and Brian McAlpine (keyboard/accordion) - flew through a set of wonderful music, all positively Scottish in nature, and their origins well explained beforehand. The clarsach is her instrument of choice, and Ms MacInnes drew a healthy, emotive sound from it. Drawing mostly from songs regarding the long-uninhabited island of Mingulay, Ms MacInnes sang with a gentle sincerity that needed no understanding of the Gaelic language to properly convey its beauty. Of course, it'd have helped.
If ever there was to be a time to forge an understanding of the Gaelic tongue, it is now. Music such as this can be appreciated without understanding of the words, but in understanding them, another realm of beauty expands to the listener.