Live Reviews

  Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams and Foy Vance live at the O2 ABC2 in Glasgow

Celtic Connections again. Two highly regarded acts in Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams and Foy Vance. One worried reviewer in a room full of people who were probably no older than him yet look all worn out. Best find a mirror and check. Yes, immaturity is indeed its own reward.

First on was Foy Vance. He hails from Belfast and he did the singer songwriter thing well. He had the voice, he knew his way around a tune and he had that dry, self effacing wit to see him through the gaps between songs. Like many solo acts, he brought along a laptop to fiddle with but the truth is that when he kept it simple, he shone.

I can't say that I had any familiarity with Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams before tonight. Perhaps the name had suggested something more exotic, even psychedelic, to me but instead what this band provided was a well executed set of mainstream folk rock with hints of Neil Diamond and the Allman Brothers. Like most American acts, they had the whole stagecraft thing well sorted and managed the not inconsiderable feat of making a Glasgow audience pay attention. Close attention at that.

Of their songs, "Pictures" and the "The Great Unravel" stood out as the crowd pleasers and - if it were not for the draconian 10 o'clock curfew - you just know that they would have played all night. I think everybody in the room would have been happy if that had happened.

Review Date: January 27 2010